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JONATHAN AND HIS CONTINENT 



JONATHAN AND HIS 
CONTINENT 



RAMBLES THROUGH AMERICAN SOCIETY 

BY 

MAX O'RELL 

AUTHOR OF 

"JOHN BULL AND HIS ISLAND," " FRIEND MAC DONALD," ETC 
AND 

JACK ALLYN 

TRANSLATED BY 

MADAME PAUL BLOUET 




BRISTOL 
J. W. Arrowsmith, ii Quay Street 

LONDON 

Simpkin, Marshall & Co., 4 Stationers' Hall Court 
1889 

All rights reserved 



m 

TO JONATHAN. 



You have often asked me to write my impressions 
of America and the Americans, and your newspapers 
have been good enough to suggest Jonathan and his 
Continent as a title for the book. 

The title is good, and I accept it. 

As for the book, since you wish it, here it is. But 
I must warn you that if ever you should fancy you 
see in this little volume a deep study of your great 
country and of your amiable compatriots, your world- 
wide reputation for humour would be exploded. 

However, as my collaborator, Jack Allyn, is an 
American citizen, some at least of the statements 
here set down regarding Jonathan ought to have 
weight and authority. 



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CONTENTS. 



Chapter I. — Population of America. — An Anecdote about the 
Sun. — Where is the Centre of America ? — Jonathan cannot get over 
it, nor can I. — America, the Land of Conjuring. — A Letter from 
Jonathan decides me to set out for the United States. 

Chapter II. — Jonathan and his Critics. — An eminent American 
gives me Salutary Advice. —Travelling Impressions. — Why Jonathan 
does not love John Bull. 

Chapter III. — Characteristic Traits. — A Gentleman and a 
Cad. — Different Ways of Discussiug the Merits of a Sermon. — 
Contradictions and Contrasts. — Sacred and Profane. — Players of 
Poker on Board Ship. — A Meek and Humble Follower of Jesus. — 
The Open Sesame of New York, Boston, and Philadelphia. — The 
Childish Side of American Character. — The Three Questions 
Jonathan puts to every Foreigner who lands in America. — Pre- 
conceived Notions. — Request of an American Journalist. — Why the 
English and the French do not put Questions in their Countries to 
the Foreigner who visits them. 

Chapter IV. — Types. — Manly Beauty. — The Indian Type. — 
Second Beauty in the Women of the New World. — Something 
Wanting in the Beauty of Most American Women. 

Chapter V. — All that Glitters is not Gold, especially in 
America. — The Dollar is the Unity of the Metrical System. — 
Jonathan is Matter-of-fact. — How he Judges Man. — The Kind of 
Baits that Take. — Talent without Money is a Useless Tool. — Boston 
and Kansas. 

Chapter VI. — Diamonds. — How Diamonds are Won and Lost 
in Tripping. — The Sweat of Jonathan's brow crystallized in his 
Wife's Ears. — Avarice is a vice little known in America. — Jonathan 
is not the Slave of the Almighty Dollar to the Extent that he is 
believed to be. 



iv 



Contents. 



Chapter XXII.— The Stage in the United States.— The " Stars." 
— French Plays. — Mr. Augustin Daly's Company. — The American 
Public. — The Theatres. — Detailed Programmes. — A Regrettable 
Omission. 

Chapter XXIII. — The Religion of the Americans. — Religious 
Sects. — Why Jonathan Goes to Church. — Walk in, Ladies and 
Gentlemen, " this is the Place to be Saved and Happy." — Irre- 
sistible Invitations. — The Esoterists. — Why Die when Immortality 
is Attainable ? — The Recipe. — Faith Cure. — A Highly-recommended 
Book. — Seventh Day Hypocrisy, — To Choose Goods is not to Buy 
Them. — " Great Scott !" — Religion and Republicanism Live Happily 
together in America. 

Chapter XXIV. — Colonel Ingersoll's Ideas. — The Man. — His 
Life. — His Works. — A Minister declines to take his Place either in 
this World or the Next. 

Chapter XXV. — Justice. — Comparison Favourable to America. 
— Judicial Procedure. — The Accused was Paid Cash. — A Criminal 
Hunt, — The Juries and their Powers. — Slow Dealings of American 
Justice. — False Philanthropy. — Twelve or Sixteen Minutes at the 
Wrong End of a Rope. — A Savage Club Anecdote. 

Chapter XXVI. — Lynch Law. — Hanged, Burned, and Shot. — 
The Gaolers do not Answer for their Boarders. — The Humours of 
Lynching. 

Chapter XXVII. — A Word on Marriage and Divorce. — Scenes 
for an Opera-Bouffe. — An Amateur Dentist. 

Chapter XXVIII. — Mr. Grover Cleveland, President of the 
United States.— A Public Reception at the White House. — A Private 
Audience. — Why a Yankee Refrained from Accompanying Me. — 
What the President Costs the Nation.— Mrs. Cleveland. — Her 
Popularity. — Life at the White House. 

Chapter XXIX. — Politics. — Parties. — The Gentleman and the 
Politician. — "Honest John" and "Jolly Roger." — The Irish in 
America. — Why the Americans are in favour of Home Rule. — The 
Mayor of New York and the Green Flag. — The German Yankees. — 
The American Constitution and the President. — Executive and 
Legislative Powers. — England is a Freer Country than America. — 
The Elections. — An Anecdote of M. Jules Grevy. 



Contents. 



v 



Chapter XXX. — The Ordinary American. — His Voice, his 
Habits, his Conversation. — He Murders his Language and your 
Ears. — Do not judge him too quickly. 

Chapter XXXI. — American Activity. — Expression of the Faces. 
— Press the Button, S.V.P. — Marketing in the House. — Magic 
Tables. — The Digestive Apparatus in Danger. — Gentlemen of 
Leisure. — Labour Laws. — A Six Days' Journey to go to a Banquet. 
— My Manager cuts out Work for Me. — A Journalist on a Journey. — 
" Don't wait dinner, am off to Europe." 

Chapter XXXII.— The " XlXth Century Club."— Intellectual 
Activity. — Literary Evenings. — Light Everywhere. 

Chapter XXXIII. — Climate Incites Jonathan to Activity.— 
Healthy Cold. — Why Drunkenness is Rare in America. — Do not 
Lose Sight of your Nose. — Advice to the Foreigner intending to 
Visit Jonathan in the Winter. — Visit to the Falls of Niagara. — 
— Turkish Baths offered Gratis by Nature. 

Chapter XXXIV. — Jonathan's Eccentricities. — The Arc de 
Triomphe not being Hirable, an American proposes to Buy it. — The 
Town Council of Paris do not Close with Him. — Cathedrals on 
Hire. — Companies Insuring against Matrimonial Infidelity. — 
Harmony Association. — Burial of a Leg. — Last Will and Testament 
of an American who Means to be Absent on the Day of Judgment. 

Chapter XXXV. — Advertisements. — Marvellous Puffs. — Illus- 
trated Ditto. — A Yankee on the Look-out for a Living, — " Her Heart 
and a Cottage." — A Circus Proprietor and the President of the 
United States. — Irresistible Offers of Marriage. — A Journalist of all 
Work. — Wanted, a Frenchwoman, Young, Pretty, and Cheerful. 
— Nerve-calming Syrup. — Doctors on the Road. — An Advocate 
Recommends Himself to Light-fingered Gentlemen. — Mr. Phineas 
Barnum, the King of Showmen. — Nothing is sacred in the Eyes of 
Phineas, the Modern Phoenix. — My Manager Regrets not being able 
to Engage Mr. Gladstone and Lord Randolph Churchill for Platform 
Work in the United States. 

Chapter XXXVI. — Railways. — Vestibule Trains. — Hotels on 
Wheels. — Windows and Ventilators, and their Uses. — Pitiless Fire- 
men. — Conductors and their Functions. — A Traveller's Perplexity. 
— Rudeness of Railway Servants. — The Actress and the Conductor. 



vi 



Contents. 



— An Inquisitive Traveller. — A Negro in a Flourishing Way. — 
Commerce on board the Cars. — "Apples, Oranges, Bananas!" — The 
Negro Compartment. — Change of Toilette. — "Mind your own 
business." 

Chapter XXXVII. — Jonathan's Domestics. — Reduced 
Duchesses. — Queer Ideas of Equality. — Unchivalrous Man. — The 
Ladies of the Feather-broom. — Mr. Vanderbilt's Cook. — Negroes. — 
Pompey's Wedding. — Where is my Coat ? — Kitchen Pianists. — 
Punch's Caricatures Outdone by Reality. — A Lady seeks a Situation 
as Dishwasher. — Why it is Desirable not to Part with your Servants 
on Bad Terms. 

Chapter XXXVIII. — Jonathan's Table. — Danger of Steel 
Knives. — The Americans are Water-drinkers. — I Discover a Snake 
in my Tumbler. — The Negro Waiter Comforts Me. — Accommodation 
for Travellers.— The Menu. — Abbreviated Dinner. — The Little Oval 
Dishes. — Turkey and Cranberry Sauce. — A not very Tempting Dish. 
— Consolation of Knowing that the Waitresses are well cared for. — 
Something to Eat, for Heaven's Sake ! — Humble Apologies to Mine 
Host. 

Chapter XXXIX. — How the Americans take their Holidays. — 
The Hotel is their Mecca. — Mammoth Hotels. — Jacksonville and St. 
Augustine. — The Ponce de Leon Hotel. — Rocking-chairs. — Having 
a " Good Time !" — The American is never Bored. — The Food is not 
very Salt, but the Bill is very Stiff. — The Negroes of the South. — 
Prodigious Memories. — More "Duchesses." — The Negresses. — I 
Insult a Woman. 

Chapter XL. — The Value of the Dollar. — A Dressmaker's Bill. 
—What American Women must Spend on Dress. — Why so many 
Americans come to Europe every year. — Current Prices. — The 
Beggar and the Nickel. — Books and Oysters are Cheap. — Salaries. 
— " I can afford it." 

Chapter XLI. — Conclusion. — Reply to the American Question. 
— Social Condition of Europe and America. — European Debt and 
American Surplus. — The Americans are not so Happy as the French. 
— What Jonathan has Accomplished. — A Wish. 



Jonathan anb bts Continent 



CHAPTER L 

Population of America. — An Anecdote about the Sun. — Where 
is the Centre of America ? — Jonathan cannot get over it, 
nor can I. — America, the Land of Conjuring. — A Letter 
from Jonathan decides me to set out for the United States. 

H E population of America is about sixty 
millions — mostly colonels. 

Yes, sixty millions — all alive and 
kicking ! 

If the earth is small, America is large, and the 
Americans are immense! 

An Englishman was one day boasting to a French- 
man of the immensity of the British Empire. 

"Yes, sir," he exclaimed to finish up with, "the 
sun never sets on the English possessions." 

" I am not surprised at that," replied the French- 
man ; " the sun is obliged to keep an eye on the 
rascals." 

However, the sun can now travel from New York 
to San Francisco, and light, on his passage, a free 
nation which, for the last hundred years, has been 
pretty successful in her efforts to get on in the world 
without John Bull's protection. 




2 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



From east to west, America stretches over a 
breadth of more than three thousand miles. Here 
it is as well to put some readers on their guard, in 
case an American should one day ask them one of his 
favourite questions : " Where is the centre of 
America ? " I myself imagined that, starting from 
New York and pushing westward, one would reach 
the extremity of America on arriving at San Fran- 
cisco. Not so ; and here Jonathan has you. He 
knows you are going to answer wrongly ; and if you 
want to please him, you must let yourself be caught 
in this little trap, because it will give him such 
satisfaction to put you right. At San Francisco, it 
appears you are not quite half-way, and the centre of 
America is really the Pacific Ocean. Jonathan more 
than doubled the width of his continent in 1867, 
when for the sum of four* million dollars he pur- 
chased Alaska of the Russians. 

Not satisfied with these immensities, Jonathan 
delights in contemplating his country through magni- 
fying glasses ; and one must forgive him the patriotism 
which makes him see everything double. 

To-day population, progress, civilisation, every 
thing advances with giant's stride. Towns seem to 
spring up through the earth. A town with twenty 
thousand inhabitants, churches, libraries, schools, 
hotels, and banks, was perhaps, but a year or two 
ago, a patch of marsh or forest. To-day Paris 
fashions are followed there as closely as in New York 
or London. 

* I have also heard "seven " million dollars. 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



3 



In America, everything is on an immense scale : 
the just pride of the citizens of the young Republic 
is fed by the grandeur of its rivers, mountains, 
deserts, cataracts, its suspension bridges, its huge 
cities, etc. 

Jonathan passes his life in admiration of all that 
is American. He cannot get over it. 

I have been through part of the country, and I 
cannot get over it either. I am out of breath, turned 
topsy - turvy. It is pure conjuring ; it is Robert 
Houdin over again — occasionally, perhaps, Robert 
Macaire too — but let us not anticipate. Give me 
time to recover my breath and set my ideas in order. 
Those Americans are reeking with unheard- of -ness, I 
can tell you that to begin with. My ideas are all 
jostling in my poor old European brain. There is no 
longer anything impossible, and the fairy tales are 
child's play compared to what we may see every day. 
Everything is prodigious, done by steam, by elec- 
tricity; it is dazzling, and I no longer wonder that 
Americans only use their adjectives in the super- 
lative. 

As an illustration of what I advance, here is a 
letter that I received from an American, in the month 
of May, 1887, and which finally decided me to go 
and see America. It is dated from Boston : 

" Dear Sir, — I was on the point of taking the boat 
at twelve to-day to go and have a talk with you 
about an idea which occurred to me yesterday ; but 
as I have already been across three times this year, 

2 



4 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



and, in a month or six weeks, shall have to set out 
for St. Petersburg and Japan, I am desirous, if 
possible, of arranging the matter I have at heart by 
correspondence. . . ." 

" I must make the acquaintance of that man," I 
exclaimed ; " I must go and see Jonathan at home 
one of these days." 

And as soon as circumstances allowed, I packed 
my trunks, took a cabin on board one of the brave 
"White Star" Liners, and set out to see Jonathan 
and his Continent. 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



5 



CHAPTER II. 

Jonathan and his Critics. — An eminent American gives me 
Salutary Advice. — Travelling Impressions. — Why 
Jonathan does not love John Bull. 

FEW days before leaving America, I had 
a pleasant talk with Mr. Whitelaw Reid, 
the chief editor of the New York Tribune. 
" Do not fall into the great error of 
fancying that you have seen America in six months," 
he said to me. 

" But I do not fancy anything of the kind," I 
replied ; " I have no such pretension. When a man 
of average intelligence returns home after having 
made a voyage to a foreign land, he cannot help 
having formed a certain number of impressions, and 
he has a right to communicate them to his friends. 
They are but impressions, notes taken by the way- 
side ; and, if there is an error committed by anyone, 
it is by the critic or the reader, when either of these 
looks for a perfect picture of the manners and insti- 
tutions of the people the author has visited, instead 
of simple impressions de voyage. Certainly, if there is 
a country in the world that it would be impossible to 
judge in six months, that country is America ; and 
the author who, in such a little space of time, allowed 
himself to fall into the error of sitting in judgment 

2 * 




6 Jonathan and his Continent. 



upon her would write himself down an ass. 
In six months you cannot know America, you 
cannot even see the country ; you can merely get a 
glimpse of it : but, by the end of a week, you may 
have been struck with various things, and have taken 
note of them. A serious study and an impression 
are two different things, and an error is committed 
by the person who takes one for the other. For 
instance, if, in criticising my little volume, you ex- 
claim, ' The author has no deep knowledge of his 
subject,' it is you who commit an error, and not I. 
I do not pretend to a deep knowledge of my subject. 
How would that be possible in so short a time ? 
How should you imagine it to be possible ? To 
form a really exact idea of America, one would need 
to live twenty years in the country, nay, to be an 
American ; and I may add that, in my opinion, the 
best books that exist upon the different countries of 
the world have been written by natives of those 
countries. Never has an author written of the 
English like Thackeray ; never have the Scotch been 
painted with such fidelity as by Ramsay; and to 
describe Tartarin, it needed not only a Frenchman, 
but a Provencal, almost a Tarasconnais. I say all 
this to you, Mr. Reid, to warn you that, if on my 
return to Europe I should publish a little volume on 
America, it will be a book of impressions ; and if you 
should persist in seeing in it anything but impressions, 
it is you who will be to blame. But in this matter I 
trust to the intelligence of those Americans who do me 
the honour of reading me. I shall be in good hands." 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



7 



Upon this the editor of the Tribune responded, as 
he shook my hand — 
" You are right." 

It must be allowed that Jonathan has good reason 
to mistrust his critics. Most books on America have 
been written by Englishmen. Now, the English are, 
of all people, those who can the least easily get rid of 
their prejudices in speaking of America. They are 
obliged to admit that the Americans have made their 
way pretty well since they have been their own 
masters ; but John Bull has always a rankling 
remembrance, when he looks at America, of the day 
that the Americans sent him about his business, and 
his look seems to say to Jonathan : " Yes, yes ; you 
have not done at all badly — for you ; but just think 
what the country would have been by this time if it 
had remained in my hands." 

He looks at everything he sees with a patronising 
air ; with the arrogant calm that makes him, amiable 
as he is at home, so unbearable when he travels 
abroad. He expresses cavalierly, criticises freely. 
He goes over with the firm intention of admiring 
nothing American. If he finds nothing else to dis- 
parage, he will complain of the want of ruins and 
old cathedrals. He occasionally presents himself at 
Jonathan's dinner-parties in a tweed suit, fearing to 
do him too much honour by putting on evening 
dress. His little talent of making himself disagree- 
able abroad comes out more strongly in America; and 
Jonathan, one of whose little weaknesses is love of 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



approbation, I honestly believe, has a cordial anti- 
pathy to the magnificent Briton. 

The Englishman, on his side, has no antipathy 
whatever to the Americans. For that matter, the 
Englishman has no antipathy for anyone. He 
despises, but he does not hate ; a fact which is 
irritating to the last degree to the objects of his 
attention. When a man feels that he has some worth, 
he likes to be loved or hated : to be treated with in- 
difference is galling. John Bull looks on the American 
as a parvenu, and smiles with incredulity when you say 
that American society is not only brilliant and witty, 
but quite as polished as the best European society. 

It is this haughty disdain which exasperates 
Americans. 

Jonathan has forgotten that the English were 
once his oppressors ; he forgives them for the war of 
1812 ; without forgetting it, he forgives them for having 
sided with the slave-owners during the Civil War; 
but he cannot forgive an Englishman for coming to 
his dinner-table in a tweed suit. 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



9 



CHAPTER III. 

Characteristic Traits. — A Gentleman and a Cad. — Different 
Ways of Discussing the Merits of a Sermon. — Contra- 
dictions and Contrasts. — Sacred and Profane. — Players 
of Poker on Board Ship. — A Meek and Humble Follower 
of Jesus. — The Open Sesame of New York, Boston, and 
Philadelphia. — The Childish Side of American Character. 
— The Three Questions Jonathan puts to every Foreigner 
who lands in America. — Preconceived Notions. — Request 
of an American Journalist. — Why the English and the 
French do not put Questions on their Countries to the 
Foreigner who visits them. 




NATION, scarcely more than a hundred 
years old, and composed of many widely 
different elements, cannot, in the nature 
of things, possess very marked character- 



istic traits. 

There are Americans in plenty, but the American 
does not yet exist. 

The inhabitant of the North-east States, the 
Yankee,* differs as much from the Western man and 
the Southerner, as the Englishman differs from the 
German or the Spaniard. 

For example, call a Yankee "a cad," and he will 
get out of the room, remarking, " You say so, sir, 

* The word "Yankee" is a corruption of the word "English," 
and only applies to the people of New England. 



10 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



but that proves nothing." Call a Pennsylvania man 
" a cad," and he will get out of temper, and knock 
you down. Call a real Westerner " a cad," and he 
will get out his revolver, and shoot you dead on the 
spot. 

On leaving a New York theatre one night, I 
jumped into a tramcar in Broadway. We were quite 
sixty persons packed upon the vehicle — sitting, stand- 
ing, holding on to the rail on the platform, trying to 
keep our equilibrium as well as we could. A gentle- 
man, well-dressed and looking well-bred, signed to 
the conductor to stop, and tried to make his way 
through the crowd. By dint of using his elbows as 
propellers, he reached the door, and was preparing 
to alight, when a man, indignant at having been 
pushed (there are people who, for twopence-half- 
penny, expect to travel as comfortably as in a 
barouche), cried : 

" You are a cad, sir — a howling cad ! " 

The gentleman jumped off the car. 

" You are a cad, I say," bellowed the individual 
after him ; " a cad, do you hear ? " 

The gentleman — for he was one — turned, lifted 
his hat, and replied : 

" Yes ; I hear. And you, sir, are a perfect gen- 
tleman." 

The perfect gentleman looked very silly for a few 
moments. A hundred yards further on, he stopped 
the car and made off. 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



ii 



Should a minister indulge in unorthodox theories 
in the pulpit, the Eastern man will content himself 
with shaking his head, and going to another church 
to perform his devotions the Sunday after. The 
Pennsylvanian will open a violent polemic in the 
newspaper of the locality; he will not be satisfied 
with shaking his head, he will shake his fist. The 
Kansas man will wait for the minister at the church- 
door, and gave him a sound thrashing.* 

The character of the American is English from 
the point of view of its contrasts and contradictions, 
which are still more accentuated in him than in the 
Englishman. 

Is there anything more sublime than the way in 
which Jonathan can combine the sacred and pro- 
fane ? He is a greater adept at it than John Bull, 
and that is saying not a little. 

On board the steamer, we had five Americans 
who passed eight days of the voyage in playing 
poker. The smoking-room rang from morning to 
night with the oaths that they uttered every time 
they laid a card on the table. They were so fluent 
with them that they hardly used the same twice 
in an hour. Their stock seemed inexhaustible. 
On Sunday, after breakfast, a young lady sat down 
to the piano, and began playing hymns. What hap- 
pened then ? Our five poker-players gathered round 

* I read in a large Eastern daily paper, under the head of 
"Kansas News": "A clergyman in Kansas has just had his nose 
bitten off by a member of his flock, who took exception to some of 
his remarks in the pulpit." 



12 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



the lady, and for two hours sang psalms and holy 
tunes to the edification of the other occupants of 
the saloon. 

I was dumbfounded. 

In France, we have men who swear and men who 
sing hymns. The Anglo-Saxon race alone furnishes 
men who do both with equal gusto. 

In what other country than America could such 
an anecdote as the following be told ? It is the most 
typical anecdote I heard in the United States. It 
came from Mr. Chauncey Depew, it is said. But, 
for that matter, when a good story goes the round of 
the States, it is always put down to Mr. Depew, 
Mark Twain, or the late Artemus Ward. 

A new minister had been appointed in a little 
Kentucky town. No sooner had he taken possession 
of his cure, than he set about ornamenting the church 
with stained-glass windows of gorgeous hues. This 
proceeding aroused the suspicions of several parish- 
ioners, who imagined that their new pastor was 
inclined to lead them to Rome. A meeting was 
called, and it was decided to send a deputation to 
the minister to ask him to explain his conduct, and 
beg him to have the offending windows removed. 

The head of the deputation was an old Presby- 
terian, whose austerity was well known in the town. 
He opened fire by addressing the reverend gentle- 
man thus : 

" We have waited upon you, sir, to beg that you 
will remove those painted windows from our church 
as soon as possible. We are simple folks. God's 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



daylight is good enough for us, and we don't care to 

have it shut out by all those images " 

The worthy fellow had prepared a fine harangue, 
and was going to give the minister the benefit of it 
all ; but the latter, losing patience, thus interrupted 
him : 

" Excuse me, you seem to be taking high ground. 
Who are you, may I ask ? " 

" Who I am ?" repeated the Presbyterian spokes- 
man. " I 'm a meek and humble follower of Jesus, 
and — d — n you, who are you ? " 

Without travelling very far, without even quitting 
the eastern coast of America, you will see a complete 
difference in the spirit of towns that are almost 
neighbours. 

In New York, for instance — I am not speaking 
now of the literary world, of which I shall speak 
later — in New York it is your money that will open 
all doors to you ; in Boston, it is your learning ; in 
Philadelphia and Virginia, it is your genealogy. 
Therefore, if you wish to be a success, parade your 
dollars in New- York, your talents in Boston, and 
your ancestors in Philadelphia and Richmond. 

There is a pronounced childish side to the cha- 
racter of all the Americans. In less than a century 
they have stridden ahead of the nations of the 
Old World ; they are astonished at their own handi- 
work, and, like children with a splendid toy of their 
own manufacture in their hands, they say to you, 



14 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



" Look ! just look, is it not a beauty ? " And, in- 
deed, the fact is that, for him who will look at it 
with unprejudiced eyes, the achievement is simply 
marvellous. 

The Americans like compliments, and are very 
sensitive to criticism. They have not yet got over 
Charles Dickens' American Notes, nor the still older 
criticisms of Mrs. Trollope. Scarcely has a foreigner 
set foot in the United States before they ask him 
what he thinks of the country. Nine persons out of 
every ten you speak to put these three questions to 
you: 

" Is this your first visit to America ? " 

" How long have you been over ? " 

" How do you like our country ? " 

There are even some who push curiosity farther, 
and do not wait until you have arrived to ask you for 
your opinion on their country. 

I had only just embarked on board the Germanic 
at Liverpool, when the purser handed me a letter 
from America. I opened it, and read : 

" Dear Sir, — Could you, during your voyage, 
write me an article on the United States ? I should 
be happy to have your preconceived notions of America 
and the Americans, so as to publish them in my 
journal as soon as you arrive." 

I do not think I am committing any indiscretion 
in saying that the letter was signed by the amiable 
and talented editor of The Critic, the first literary 
journal in the United States. 



Jonathan and his Continent. 15 



I had heard that the cabman who drove you to 
your hotel from the docks asked you, as he opened 
the door of his vehicle, "Well, sir, and what are 
your impressions of America ? " But to ask me in 
Liverpool my preconceived notions of America and 
the Americans, that outdid anything of the kind I 
had heard on the subject. 

An Englishman or a Frenchman will never ask 
you what you think of England or France. The fact 
is, they both care little or nothing for the foreigner's 
opinion. The Frenchman does not doubt that his 
country is beyond competition. If he enter into the 
subject at all, it is to congratulate the stranger upon 
coming to visit it. 

The Englishman makes less noise over it. In 
his provokingly calm manner, he is perfectly per- 
suaded that England is the first country in the world, 
and that everybody admits it, and the idea of asking 
an outsider for his opinion of it would never enter his 
head. He would think it so ridiculous, so amusing, 
so grotesque, that anyone should tell him England 
was not at the head of all nations, that he would not 
take the trouble to resent it. He would pity the 
person, and there the matter would end. 



1 6 Jonathan and his Continent. 



CHAPTER IV. 

Types. — Manly Beauty. — The Indian Type. — Second Beairty 
in the Women of the New World. — Something Wanting 
in the Beauty of Most American Women. 

H E American men are generally thin. 
Their faces glow with intelligence and 
energy, and in this mainly consists their 
handsomeness. I do not think it can be 
possible to see anywhere a finer assemblage of men 
than that which meets at the Century Club of New 
York every first Saturday of the month. It is not 
male beauty such as the Greeks portrayed it, but a 
manly beauty in all its intellectual force. The hair, 
often abundant, is neglige, sometimes even almost 
disordered-looking; the dress displays taste and care 
without aiming at elegance ; the face is pale and 
serious, but lights up with an amiable smile : you 
divine that resolution and gentleness live in harmony 
in the American character. 

The features are bony, the forehead straight, the 
nose sharp and often pinched-looking in its thinness. 
One seems at times to recognise in the faces some- 
thing of the Indian type : the temples indented, the 
cheek-bones prominent, the eyes small, keen, and 
deepset. 

The well-bred American is, to my mind, a happy 
combination of the Frenchman and the Englishman, 




Jonathan and his Continent. 



17 



having less stiffness than the latter, and more sim- 
plicity than the former. 

As for the women, I do not hesitate to say that 
in the east, in New York especially, they might be 
taken for Frenchwomen. It is the same type, the 
same gait, the same vivacity, the same petulance, 
the same amplitude of proportions. 

The beauty of the American women, like that of 
the men, is due much more to the animation of the 
face than to form or colouring. The average of good 
looks is very high, indeed. I do not remember to 
have seen one hopelessly plain woman during my 
six months' ramble in the States. 

American women generally enjoy that second 
youth which Nature bestows also on numbers of 
Frenchwomen. At forty, they bloom out into a 
more majestic beauty. The eyes retain their fire 
and lustre, the skin does not wrinkle, the hands, 
neck, and arms remain firm and white. It is true 
that, in America, hair turns grey early ; but, so far 
from detracting from the American woman's charms, 
it gives her an air of distinction, and is often posi- 
tively an attraction. 

If the Americans descend from the English, their 
women have not inherited from their grandmothers 
either their teeth, their hands, or their feet. I have 
seen, in America, the daintiest little hands and feet 
in the world (this is not an Americanism). 

The New Yorkers and Bostonians will have it to 
be that Chicago women have enormous feet and 
hands. I was willing to believe this, up to the day 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



I went to Chicago. I found the Chicago women, 
and those of the west generally, pretty, with more 
colour than their eastern sisters ; only, as a rule, 
quite slight, not to say thin. 

That which is lacking in the pretty American 
faces of the east is colour and freshness. The com- 
plexion is pale; and it is only their plumpness, which 
comes to their rescue after thirty, and prevents them 
from looking faded. Those who remain thin, gener- 
ally fade quickly; the complexion becomes the colour 
of whity-brown paper, and wrinkles freely. 

If American women went in for more outdoor 
exercise ; if they let the outer air penetrate con- 
stantly into their rooms; if they gave up living in 
hothouses, they would have some colour, and their 
beauty need, perhaps, fear no competition in Europe. 



Jonathan and his Continent. jg 



CHAPTER V. 

All that Glitters is not Gold, especially in America. — The 
Dollar is the Unity of the Metrical System. — Jonathan 
is Matter-of-fact. — How he judges Man. — The Kind of 
Baits that Take. — Talent without Money is a Useless 
Tool. — Boston and Kansas. 

IJ^ONATHAN admires all that glitters, even 
y jBr that \yhich is not gold. 

In his eyes, the success of a thing 
****** answers for its quality, and the charla- 
tanism that succeeds is superior to the merit that 
vegetates. 

The dollar is not only the unity of the monetary 
system ; it is also the unity of the metrical system. 

Before assigning a man his standing, people ask 
him in England, "Who is your father?" in France, 
" Who are you ? " in America, " How much have 
you ? " 

Like Professor Teufelsdrockh, the ordinary 
American judges men with an impartiality and 
coolness really charming. He admires talent, 
because it is a paying commodity. A literary or 
artistic success is only a success, in his eyes, on 
condition that it is a monetary one as well. He 
looks upon every man as possessing a certain 
commercial value. He is worth so much. Such 
and such a celebrity does not inspire his respect 

3 



20 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



and admiration because he or she has produced a 
work of genius, but because the work of genius has 
produced a fortune. In America, you hear people, 
when talking of Madame Adelina Patti, speak less 
of her incomparable voice than of the houses she 
draws. 

I was chatting one day with an American about 
the famous Robert Ingersoll. 

" He is your greatest orator, I am told," I said. 

ct Oh, yes," he replied. " Ingersoll can fill the 
Metropolitan Opera House any day, and have five 
thousand dollars in the house." 

Certainly that is a curious way to speak of a 
great orator, a great writer, and a great thinker. 

I need not say that I am now speaking of the 
ordinary American, not the man of refinement. 

It would be quite possible for an actress to attract 
large audiences all through a tour from New York to 
San Francisco, not because of incontestable talent, 
but because she travelled in a magnificent palace-car 
of her own. 

I saw, in an American paper, the appearance of 
Miss Minnie Palmer spoken of in the following 
terms : 

" Minnie Palmer will wear all her diamonds in 
the third act." 

The booking-office was besieged all day, and in 
the evening money was refused. An amusing detail 
was the arrival of a good fourth of the audience at 
ten o'clock, to see the diamonds in the third act. 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



21 



This necessity for being rich is the reverse side 
of the medal in America, where, more than any- 
where else, talent without money is a useless tool. 

America suffers from this state of things. The 
country's genius, instead of consecrating all its time 
to the production of works which would tend to 
elevate the ideas and aspirations of the people, is 
obliged to think of money-making. 

" Ah ! my friend," said one of America's most 
graceful bards to me one day as he touched his fore- 
head, " it seems to me that I have something there, 
that I possess the feu sacre, and that I might do a 
little share of good by my writings. But how write 
poems, when there are rumours of panic in Wall 

Street ? Excuse me, I have not a moment to 

lose ; I must rush to the Stock Exchange." 

The American authors, most of them, only take 
up the pen at odd hours. Business first. Mark 
Twain is a publisher ; Oliver Wendell Holmes is a 
doctor ; Edmund Clarence Stedman is a stockbroker ; 
Robert Ingersoll, an advocate; George Cable, a public 
lecturer ; and James Russell Lowell is a diplomatist. 
The rest are journalists. There are few, indeed, who 
live by book-writing. 

However, perhaps a day will come when American 
law will prevent publishers from stealing the works 
of European writers, and publishing them at low 
prices ; then American authors, having no longer to 
fear this unjust competition, may be able to sell their 
books in sufficient numbers to allow them to pay 
their landlord and tradesmen out of the profits. 

3 * 



22 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



When that day comes, American literature will 
spread its pinions and rise to prodigious heights. 

In a country governed by Protectionists, it does 
seem strange that national products should all be 
protected except the products of the brain. Such 
an anomaly cannot certainly endure. The moral 
sense of the people will triumph. Boston, not 
Kansas, must win. 

Unluckily, the Copyright Bill has the misfortune 
to be desired by the English ; and this is quite 
enough for the Washington politicians to refuse to 
pass it, although the Americans desire it no less 
than the English, if not more. 



Jonathan and his Continent. 23 



CHAPTER VI. 



Diamonds. — How Diamonds are Won and Lost in Tripping. — 
The Sweat of Jonathan 1 sbrow crystallized™ his Wife'sEars. 
— Avarice is a vice little known in America. — Jonathan 
is not the Slave of the Almighty Dollar to the Extent that 
he is believed to be. 



mi N has been perpetuated to expiate 
the transgression of his first parent 
by hard labour. Jonathan is a proof 

He labours, he toils, and the sweat of his brow 
crystallizes upon the neck and arms of his beloved 
womankind in the form of diamonds. 

To the American woman the diamond is not an 
object of luxury, it is an object of prime necessity. 
An English old maid would do without her tea before 
an American woman would go without diamonds. 

Oh, those diamonds in America ! You see them 
wherever you go ! Not one woman in a hundred will 
you see without a pair of them in her ears. It is an 
obsession. 

Diamonds, at night with evening dress and artifi- 
cial light, are things of beauty : but diamonds in the 
street with morning dress, at early breakfast in com- 
pany with morning wrappers ; diamonds in the ears, 
at the neck, in the bonnet-strings, on arms, on 



24 Jonathan and his Continent. 



fingers, diamonds all day long and everywhere, it is 
a remnant of savagery. Nay, I saw diamonds on 
shoe-buckles one day in broad day in a shop. 

"There is a woman who is not afraid of tripping 
and losing her diamonds," said I to myself; "but 
perhaps she got them the same way that she might 
have lost them. Certainly she cannot be a lady." 
However, it appears she was, and a well-known 
figure in New York Society. So I was told by the 
manager of the establishment, who was at the time 
showing me over his magnificent rooms. 

If good style consists in not doing what the 
vulgar do, good style in America ought to consist for 
one thing in not wearing diamonds — unless demo- 
cracy should demand this sign of equality. 

Diamonds are worn by the woman of fashion, the 
tradesman's wife, shop-girls, work-girls, and servants ; 
and if you see a shabbily-dressed woman who has not 
a pair in her ears, you may take it for granted that 
she has put them in pawn. 

Naturally, in America, as elsewhere, all that 
sparkles is not diamond. 

When you see diamonds in the ears of shop-girls 
and factory-girls, they are sham gems bought with 
well-earned money, or real ones bought with badly- 
earned money. 

I have seen pretty women completely disfigure 
themselves by hanging enormous diamonds in their 
ears. These ear-drops had a very high commercial 
value ; but artistic value, none. There is a defect, 
which seems to exist everywhere in America — a dis- 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



25 



position to imagine that the value of things is in 
proportion to their size. 

Love of woman, innate in the American, is not 
enough in itself to explain the luxury that man 
lavishes on her in the United States. America 
is not the only country where man is devoted to 
woman and ready to satisfy all her caprices. The 
Frenchman is as keenly alive to her influences as 
the American, if not more. 

The luxury of the American woman must be ex- 
plained in another way. 

Money is easily earned in the United States, and 
is freely spent. Business savours more of gambling 
than of commerce in the proper sense of the word. 

Jonathan, then, is in a position much like that of 
a man whom I saw give a hundred franc note to a 
beggar one day in the streets of Monte Carlo. " If 
I win at trente et quay ante" said he to some one who 
asked him how he could do such a foolish thing, 
" what are a hundred francs to me ? I can afford to 
be generous to a poor fellow-creature out of it ; if I 
lose, it is so much that the croupier will not get." 
When Jonathan covers his wife with diamonds, he 
says to himself : " If I win, I can indulge my wife 
without inconveniencing myself ; if I lose, it is so 
much saved from the fray." 

This is not all. 

If the American thirsts after money, it is not for 
the love of money as a rule, but for the love of that' 
which money can buy. In other words, avarice is a 



26 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



vice almost unknown in America. Jonathan does 
not amass gold for the pleasure of adding pile to pile 
and counting it. He pursues wealth to improve his 
position in life and to surround those dependent upon 
him with advantages and luxuries. He spends his 
money as gaily as he pockets it, especially when it is 
a question of gratifying his wife or daughters, who 
are the objects of his most assiduous attention. He 
is the first to admit that their love for diamonds is as 
absurd as it is costly, but he is good-humoured and 
says, " Since they like them, why should they not 
have them ?" 

In Europe, there is a false notion that Jonathan 
thinks only of money, that he passes his life in the 
worship of the almighty dollar. It is an error. I 
believe that at heart he cares but little for money. If 
a millionaire inspires respect, it is as much for the 
activity and talent he has displayed in the winning 
of his fortune as for the dollars themselves. An 
American, who had nothing but his dollars to boast 
of, might easily see all English doors open to him, but 
his millions alone would not give him the entree into 
the best society of Boston and New York. There he 
would be requested to produce some other recom- 
mendation. An American girl who was rich, but 
plain and stupid, would always find some English 
duke, French marquis, or Italian count, ready to 
marry her, but she would have great difficulty in 
finding an American gentleman who would look upon 
her fortune or her dot as a sufficient indemnity. 

At a public dinner, the millionaire does not find a 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



27 



place of honour reserved for him, as he would in 
England. The seats of honour are reserved for men 
of talent. Even in politics, money does not lead to 
honours. 

No, the Americans do not worship the Golden 
Calf, as Europeans are often pleased to imagine. 

As to the ladies, that is different — but we shall 
speak of them in another chapter. 



28 Jonathan and his Continent. 



CHAPTER VII. 

Notes on the great American Cities. — New York. — Boston. — A 
Visit to Oliver Wendell Holmes. — Washington. — Mount 
Vernon. — Philadelphia. — Chicago. — Rivalry between these 
Cities. — Jokes they indulge in at each other's Expense. 

HE large cities do not constitute the real 
America. To gain a correct idea of the 
country, one must go and see those 
hundreds, nay thousands, of flourishing 
little towns which spring up day by day on that 
immense continent. 

I went to America too late, and left it too early, to 
be able to enjoy and admire its natural beauties. The 
trees were shorn of their magnificent foliage, the 
Indian summer was just over, and forest and prairie 
were alike bare and brown. No matter : I dread 
descriptions of scenery, and I could not have done 
justice to the subject. Men interest me more than 
rivers, rocks, and trees. I cannot describe Nature, 
and it is human nature that attracts me most. 

Great cities surely have their interest, especially 
those of the United States, which, with the excep- 
tion of New York, have each their own particular 
characteristics. 

The city of New York is built upon an island 
about nine miles long, half a mile broad at the south, 




Jonathan and his Continent. 



29 



and about two and a half broad at the north. This 
island has the form of a tongue. 

The city looks like a slice of honeycomb on the 
map : twelve great arteries run from north to south, 
crossed at right angles by over a hundred streets 
forming an immense number of "blocks," as they 
are called. 

Except in the city proper, where they have par- 
ticular names, the streets are all numbered : 1st 
Street, 2nd Street, 125th Street, and so on. The great 
arteries take the name of Avenues, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, up 
to nth, besides Broadway which crosses the city 
diagonally. 

It will readily be seen that nothing is easier than 
to find a house situated in such and such a street, at 
such and such a number. So many streets, so many 
blocks, and you are at your destination without 
trouble. The thing which puzzled my wits was to 
remember the addresses of my acquaintances : No. 
103, East 15th Street ; 144, West 26th Street ; 134, 
West 33rd Street; 177, East 48th Street; 154, West 
72nd Street ; 400, Fifth Avenue. You can readily 
imagine the perplexity of the unfortunate foreigner 
who finds himself, at the end of a few days, con- 
fronted with this difficulty and with a score of calls 
to pay. 

As I looked at the New Yorkers walking along 
the streets with that preoccupied look of theirs, I said 
to myself : " Those good people must be trying to 
keep their address in mind, and are repeating it over 
to themselves all the time." 



30 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



It is of no use looking in New York for monu- 
ments in the sense which we attach to the word in 
Europe. There are massive buildings, and a few 
handsome churches, but nothing which arrests your 
gaze. The houses in the best parts of the town are 
built of brown stone, in the English style. In the 
populous quarters many are of red brick, with green 
shutters on the outside. 

The streets are horribly ill paved. From my 
windows, which looked on Madison Square, the car- 
riages appeared to rise and fall as if on a troubled 
sea. Drunkards have had to drop their habits : they 
could not reach home from the beer saloons. 

Three fine squares alone break the monotony of 
all these parallelograms of streets : Washington 
Square, Union Square, and Madison Square. 

On the north, Central Park, with its fine avenues, 
its hillocks, its valleys, its lakes, and its magnificent 
terrace over the Hudson, is a very lovely pleasure 
ground. It is the only place where one can see 
trees, turf, and flowers. New York does not possess 
a single garden, public 01 private, if one excepts the 
three squares I named just now. 

That which strikes the visitor to New York is not 
the city itself, but the feverish activity that reigns 
there. 

Overhead is a network of telegraph and telephone 
wires ; on the ground a network of rails. It is esti- 
mated that there are more than 12,000 miles of 
telegraph wires suspended over the heads of the 
passers by: about enough to go half round the world. 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



3* 



The whistles of the boats that ply between New 
York and Brooklyn on the East River, and between 
New York and Jersey City on the Hudson, keep up, 
day and night until one in the morning, a noise 
which is like the roar of wild beasts. It is the cry 
of Matter under the yoke of Man. It is like living in 
a menagerie. 

In almost every street tramcars pass every few 
minutes. It is an incessant procession. In Broad- 
way alone there are more than three hundred. The 
cars, as they are always called in America, are 
magical, like everything American. Built to carry 
twenty-four persons inside (there are no seats on the 
top), they are made to hold sixty and more. In fact, 
no matter how full they are, there is always room for 
one more. The conductor never refuses to let you 
get on board. You hang on to the rail beside the 
driver or conductor, if it is not possible to squeeze 
yourself inside and hold on to the leather straps pro- 
vided for the purpose ; you gasp for breath, it is all 
you can do to get at your pocket to extract the five 
cents which you owe the car company ; but the con- 
ductor cries in his imperturbable nasal drawl : " Move 
forward, make room." If you do not like it, you have 
the alternative of walking. These cars are drawn by 
two horses. At night, when the theatres are empty- 
ing and the loads are heaviest, is just the time when 
the stoppages are most frequent — someone gets on or 
alights at every block ; the strain on the horses must 
be tremendous. 

Cabs are few. This is not wonderful, seeing 



32 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



that the lowest fare is a dollar or a dollar and 
half. 

In Third Avenue and Sixth Avenue, you find the 
overhead railway called "the Elevated." It is sup- 
ported on iron pillars, and the trains run along on a 
level with the upper windows of the houses. This 
company carries every day the fabulous number of 
500,000 passengers. 

All the existing means of transit are acknowledged 
to be insufficient, and an underground railway is 
talked of. There will soon be travellers under 
ground, on the ground, and in the air. Poor Her- 
cules, where are you with your ne phis ultra ? You 
had reckoned without your Yankee. 

The streets, ill-paved and dirty, are dangerous in 
winter. Coachmen do not check their horses for the 
foot passengers, but neither do they try to run over 
them. They strike the middle course between the 
London coachman, who avoids them, and the Parisian 
one, who aims at them. 

At the corner of each block there is a letter-box. 
If you have any newspapers or extra large letters to 
post, you lay them on the box and trust to the 
honesty of the passers-by. If rain comes on, so much 
the worse. If you want stamps, you go to the chemist 
and buy a lotion or potion, taking occasion at the 
same time to buy your stamps. Post-offices are few 
and far between. 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



33 



The populous quarters, such as the Chinese quar- 
ter, the Italian quarter, the Jewish quarter, with their 
tenement-houses — those barracks of the poor, which I 
visited one day in company with a sanitary engineer 
— remind one of Dante's descriptions: it is a descent, 
or rather an ascent, into hell. I spare the reader the 
impressions which that day left upon me. Horrible ! 
A populace composed of the offscourings of all nations 
— the dirtiest, roughest, one can imagine. 

Hard by this frightful squalor, Fifth Avenue, with 
its palaces full of the riches of the earth. It is the 
eternal history of large cities. 

As in London, hundreds of churches and taverns 
(called beer saloons) : it is the same ignoble Anglo- 
Saxon mixture of bible and beer, of the spiritual and 
the spirituous. 

New York is probably the most cosmopolitan 
city in the world. To give an idea of it, I may tell 
you that there are newspapers published there 
in English, French, German, Russian, Italian, 
Spanish, Swedish, Dutch, Hungarian, Chinese, and 
Hebrew. 

I received one day a circular of a meeting of the 
" Knights of Labour." It was printed in six different 
languages. 

The streets are wide, bright, and animated ; the 
shops handsome. In Broadway and Union Square 
the jewellers and confectioners flourish, pretty flower- 
shops abound : it is Paris, rather than London, with- 
out, however, being one or the other. 

As I said before, there are no grand buildings to 



34 Jonathan and his Continent. 



to invite one's gaze to rest ; to rejoice the eyes, one 
must penetrate into the houses of the rich. 

There is a small collection of pictures in the 
Museum in the Central Park; but most of the art 
treasures of America are to be found in private 
collections. 

Boston (pronounced Boast' on) is quite an English 
city, handsomely and solidly built. It has a public 
garden in the centre, the effect of which at night is 
enchanting. 

It is the most scholarly city of the United States- - 
one of the greatest centres of erudition in the world. 

Boston Society is less showy than that of New 
York, the women have, perhaps, less chic, but they 
have more colour in their faces and more repose in 
their manner. 

Nothing is more diverting than to hear the 
dwellers in each great American town criticise the 
dwellers in the others. All these societies, each 
almost in its infancy as yet, are jealous one of 
another. At Boston, for instance, you will be told 
that the Chicago people are all pig-stickers and pork- 
packers. In Chicago, you will hear that Boston is 
composed of nothing but prigs and precieuses ridicules. 

Allow for a large amount of exaggeration, and 
there remains a certain foundation of truth. 

The English spoken in Boston is purer than any 
to be heard elsewhere in the North. The voices are 
less harsh and nasal, the language ceases to be vnrry, 
vurry Amurracan. If you think yourself in England, 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



35 



as you walk along the streets, the illusion becomes 
complete when you hear the well-bred people speak. 

All the anecdotes told in America on the subject 
of Boston are satires upon the presumptuous cha- 
racter of the Bostonian, who considers Boston the 
centre of the universe. 

Here is one of the many hundreds I heard : 

A Boston man has lost his wife. As soon as 
telephonic communication is established between 
that city and Paradise, he rings and cries : 

"Hello!" 

" Hello ! " from the other end. 
" Is that you, Artemisia ? " 
" Yes, dear." 

"Well, my love, and how do you like it up 
there?" 

" Oh, it is very nice of course but it isn't 

Boston." 

Another, equally quiet, is this : 

Two ladies walking along the road, in the environs 
of Boston, came to a mile-stone bearing the in- 
scription : 

I M 

FROM 
BOSTON. 

" How simple ! how touching ! " exclaimed one of 
the ladies, taking it for a grave-stone ; " nothing but 
these words : ' I 'm from Boston.' " 

Boston, and the whole State of Massachussets, of 
which it is the chief city, are the homes of most of the 

4 



36 



Jonathan and his Continent, 



literary celebrities of America. Longfellow lived there ; 
Whittier, Lowell, and Holmes live there still; Mr. 
Howells and Henry James are Boston men, I believe. 

Before leaving Boston, I had the pleasure of seeing 
Oliver Wendell Holmes at home. 

The Doctor received me in his study, a fine room 
well lined with books, and having large windows 
overlooking the river Charles and facing his Harvard 
University. Lit by the setting sun, the picture from 
the windows was alone worth going to see. The 
Doctor's reception was most cordial. 

He is a small man, looking about seventy-five; 
but the expression of his face is young, and will 
always be so, I imagine. His smile is clever-looking, 
sweet, and full of contagious gaiety. Thick bushy 
grey eyebrows, which stand out, and a protruding 
under-lip, make his profile odd looking. The eyes 
are twinkling with humour — and good humour. 
Philosopher, poet, and humorist are written plainly 
on the face. 

The Doctor was soon chatting about his last trip 
to Europe, and how, though it was August, he went 
over to Paris to revisit the haunts of his youth, where 
he had studied medicine (he was lecturer on anatomy 
in Boston Hospital up to four years ago); how he 
found it a desert void of all the "old familiar faces ;" 
but his daughter shopped to her satisfaction. 
Then turning to modern French literature : 
" Who will ever say again that France has no 
humorists?" remarked the Doctor. " I have been 
delighting in Daudet's Tartarin" 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



37 



At the very thought of the Tarasconnais' droll 
adventures, he laughed. The Autocrat's laugh is, as 
I said, infectious. It is quick, merry, hearty; he 
shakes over it in a way not common with any but 
stout people. 

Skipping past other light literature, he stopped to 
say a word of admiration for Zola's wonderful de- 
scriptions of Paris— in fact, for the artist that is in 
him — but regretted, as everyone does, that such a 
great writer should prostitute his genius. 

Hung upon the wall in a corner was a caricature 
of "the Autocrat of the Breakfast Table," one of the 
Vanity Fair series. Upon my espying it, the dear 
old Doctor said, with his merry laugh : " There, you 
see, I am not a vain man, or I should hide that 
away." 

Vain, no, Oliver Wendell Holmes is the personifi- 
cation of simplicity and good humour; a sunny-hearted 
man, with a lively enjoyment still of the pleasures of 
society. 

A lady friend told me that, meeting him one day 
after he had had an ovation somewhere, she asked 
him : 

" Well, Doctor, and are you not getting a little 
tired of all this cheering and applause ?" 

" Not a bit," replied he ; " they never greet me 
loud enough, or clap long enough, to please me." 

Washington is the sole American city which has 
monuments that can strike the European with ad- 
miration for their beauty. The Capitol, the Govern- 

4 * 



38 Jonathan and his Continent. 



ment buildings, the museums, built in the midst 
of handsome gardens, all arrest the eye of the 
visitor. 

The Capitol, 751 feet long, built of white marble, 
with a superb dome and majestic flights of steps, is 
one of the grandest, most imposing-looking, edifices 
in the world. The souvenirs attached to it, and the 
treasures it contains, render it dear to the Americans: 
it is a monument which recalls to their minds the 
glories of the past, and keeps alight the flame of 
patriotism. 

A general, who served through the great Civil 
War, told me he had seen strong men, soldiers brought 
up in remote States, sit down and weep with emotion 
at seeing the Capitol for the first time. 

At one end of the building there is the House of 
Representatives ; in the other wing, the Senate. As 
for the national treasures contained in the Capitol, I 
refer the reader to guide-books for them. 

The Americans, determined for once to be beyond 
suspicion in employing an adjective in the super- 
lative degree, followed by the traditional " in the 
world," have erected, to the memory of General 
Washington, an obelisk 555 feet high. It is therefore 
the highest in the world, without any inverted 
commas. 

The town is prettily laid out, somewhat in the 
form of a spider's web. The streets are wide, the 
houses coquettish-looking, the gardens, especially 
the park of the Soldier's Home, extremely beautiful. 

Washington is wholly given over to politics. 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



39 



When Congress is not sitting, it is dead; when 
Congress is sitting, it is delirious. 

Little or no commerce is done. 

No visitor leaves Washington without making a 
pilgrimage to Mount Vernon, where Washington is 
buried, and where everything speaks of him who was 
" first in war, first in peace, first in the hearts of his 
countrymen." 

A journey of an hour and a half up the beautiful 
Potomac, every turn of which discloses a fresh pano- 
rama, brings you to the woods of Mount Vernon. 

The house, a wooden structure with a piazza along 
the front, stands on a considerable elevation, and 
commands a fine view of winding river and wooded 
banks. One is seized with admiration at the sight 
of all this beauty, as one stands upon the threshold 
of the old home of America's liberator. 

It was here, in this peaceful country-house, that 
lived, like the most modest of America's sons, the 
man who was the greatest hero of modern times. A 
feeling of reverent admiration fills you as you enter 
the quaint little hall. 

Each room is kept up at the expense of one of 
the thirty-three States of the Union. Everything has 
been arranged, as nearly as possible, to represent the 
state of the house at the time Washington lived 
in it. 

In the hall hangs the key of the Bastille pre- 
sented in 1789 by Lafayette to the " Great friend of 
Liberty." 

There is an interesting little souvenir attaching 



40 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



to the history of the banquet hall. This room was 
built in 1784, and finished at the time of Lafayette's 
third visit to America. He and several French noble- 
men were visiting Mount Vernon, and a ball was to 
be given in their honour. A handsome wall-paper, 
imported from England, had arrived ; but the paper- 
hangers had not arrived, greatly to Mrs. Washing- 
ton's annoyance. Seeing his hostess grow distressed 
over the delay of the workmen, Lafayette, with 
characteristic enthusiasm, said to her : 

" Do not despair, Madame ; we are three or four 
able-bodied men, who will soon make short work 
of it." 

And, without more ado, the marquis and his 
friends set about papering the walls, and were soon 
joined by Washington himself, who proved a vigor- 
ous and efficient help. 

The tomb of the General is of the simplest de- 
scription ; but it evokes far more touching memories 
than the magnificent sarcophagus of Napoleon in the 
Church of the Invalides. I never felt more sincerely 
impressed and touched than at Mount Vernon. 

Philadelphia, formerly the capital of the United 
States, is a city of eight or nine hundred thousand 
inhabitants, and is built like New York, in parallelo- 
grams. Its Town Hall is, next to the Capitol at 
Washington, the finest edifice in America. I do not 
know anything to compare to its splendid park, 
unless it be the Bois de Boulogne in Paris. The 
alleys of this park, if put together, would cover about 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



4* 



sixty miles in length — so said a Philadelphian, who 
added : " therefore it is the biggest park in the 
world." Seen after New York or the busy western 
cities, Philadelphia strikes one as monotonous. 
It is full of all kinds of manufactories, however, 
this Quaker city of quiet streets and sober 
people. 

On the shores of Lake Michigan there stood a 
rather insignificant town, built of wood, and peopled 
by a few thousand inhabitants. This town was called 
Chicago. 

On the evening of the 8th of October, 1871, a cow, 
that an old woman was milking in a barn, kicked 
over a lamp and set fire to the structure. The flames 
spread, and on the morrow of that terrible night the 
whole city was level with the ground. The Chicago 
people of to-day show, as a curiosity to the visitor, 
the only house which escaped the flames. 

At the present time, this city, like the phoenix of 
which she is the living and gigantic emblem, stands, 
rebuilt in hewn stone, and holding 800,000 inhabi- 
tants. 

Such is America. 

In less than twenty years, Omaha, Kansas, 
Denver, Minneapolis, will be so many Chicagos. 
Cincinnati, St. Louis, and Louisville will rival her 
in five. 

Chicago is, in my eyes, the very type of the 
American city — the most striking example of what 
Jonathan calls go-a-hcadism. 



4 2 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



The streets are twice as wide as the Parisian 
boulevards, the houses of business are eight, ten, 
twelve stories high. Michigan Avenue is seven miles 
long : the numbers of the houses run up to three 
thousand and something. The city has parks, lovely 
drives by the Lake Shore ; statues, including a 
splendid one of Abraham Lincoln ; public buildings 
imposing in their massiveness, fine theatres and 
churches ; luxurious clubs, hotels inside which four 
good sized Parisian ones could dance a quadrille, 
etc., etc. 

Michigan Avenue and Prairie Avenue are ex- 
tremely handsome. Picture to yourself the Avenue 
of the Bois de Boulogne prolonged for seven miles 
in a straight line, and imagine the effect, the beau- 
tiful vista, when this is lit up at night, or when the 
trees, with which both these grand roads are planted, 
are in all their fresh spring beauty. 

In these avenues American eccentricity has been 
allowed free play. The houses are built in all imagin- 
able styles of architecture : some of them are Floren- 
tine, some English, others Moorish, others a mixture 
of all three; others, again, look like Greek temples, 
whilst here and there you come across what looks 
like a little Gothic church, and close alongside 
mediaeval castles in miniature, or an imitation of 
mosques ; some have the look of villas in the Paris 
suburbs ; some have been modelled upon Swiss 
chalets, others upon the residence of some pacha 
on the borders of the Bosphorus. There are styles 
for all tastes. 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



43 



The American may be eccentric, or what you 
will, but he is never monotonous. 

Enter one of these houses, and you will see hand- 
some furniture, not only rich, but in good taste. 

Riches beget the taste for literature and the arts ; 
perhaps one day it will beget the taste for simplicity. 
I was not astonished to find Chicago society genial, 
polished, and well read. You find here still more 
warmth and much less constraint than in the East. 
You feel that you have quitted the realms of New 
England puritanism. No frigidity here ; people give 
free play to their sentiments. If I had to name 
the most sympathetic of my American audiences, the 
warmest* and promptest to seize the significance of 
a look or gesture, I should name the one which I 
had the honour of addressing in Chicago. 

At seven in the morning every man is astir and 
at work, whether he be millionaire or poor clerk. 
As I have mentioned elsewhere, only the idle are 
outside the pale of respectability in Chicago. 

The business done in Chicago is fabulous. The 
money value of the total trade last year, I am told, 
reached the immense sum of 227 millions sterling. 
The aggregate bank clearings amounted to about 
612 millions sterling. 2,383,000 cattle are slaugh- 
tered, and 6,250,000 barrels of flour received. 
Chicago is probably the most flourishing city in 
America — therefore in the world, as Jonathan 

* I have had this opinion corroborated since by all the public 
speakers and artists with whom I have spoken on the subject. 



44 



Jonathan and his Continent, 



would put it. I give these figures also to show that 
divine wrath does not seem to fall upon this city 
which opens its places of recreation on Sundays. 

Twenty railway lines, besides local ones, have 
termini at Chicago. The total mileages of Chicago 
railroads is 28,817. Stop and catch your breath ! 

I do not think it is possible for a European to 
imagine the activity which reigns in Chicago without 
seeing it. 

" You will soon be inventing," I said to a resi- 
dent, " a machine that will take a live rabbit at one 
end, and turn out a chimney-pot hat at the other. 

" We have done something very like it already," 
he replied. 

And next morning he took me to see the famous 
pig -killing and pork -packing premises of Philip 
Armour and Co. 

Picture to yourself a series of rooms connecting. 
In the first, 5,000 pigs a day are killed ; in the second, 
they are scraped as they come out of a cauldron of 
scalding water ; in the third, the heads are cut off ; 
and so on, and so on. The process is somewhat 
sickening, and I will not enter into any more details. 
At the end of the establishment the poor pigs are 
presented to you under the forms of bacon, sausage, 
galantine, etc. The various processes take place 
with all the rapidity of conjuring. 

What will they not invent in Chicago ? That 
which looks like a joke to-day may be a reality next 
week ; and I shall not be surprised, next time I go to 
Chicago, to find that the talking power of women 



Jonathan and his Continent, 



45 



has been utilized as a motor for sewing machines 
by connecting the chin with the wheel. 

How leave Chicago without mentioning the 
adieux that reached me at my hotel during the hour 
before I left for Canada ? 

Ding-rrrring, goes the telephone bell. 

" Hello ! " 

"Hello!" 

" Good-bye ; good luck ! " 
" Hello ! " 

" Pleasant journey ! " 
"Hello!" 

" Good-bye ; our compliments to John Bull ! " 



4 6 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



CHAPTER VIII. 

American Houses. — Furniture. — Luxury. — The Clubs. — An 
Evening at the Authors' Club. — An Eyesore. — A Wonder- 
ful Shot. — Bang, right in the Bull's-eye ! 

M E R I C A N houses are furnished very 
luxuriously, and for the most part in 
exquisite taste. Here you see the in- 
fluence of woman in the smallest details 
of life ; indeed, at every step you take, you see that 
woman has passed that way. 

Decorations and furniture, in New York especially, 
are dark, substantial, and artistic. The liberal use 
of portieres adds greatly to the richness of effect. 
Even in the hall, doors are replaced by hangings. 
On all sides there is pleasure for the eyes, whether it 
rests on furniture, walls, or ceilings. The floors are 
covered with rich carpets, and the ceilings are in- 
variably decorated in harmony with the rest of the 
room. 

The reception-rooms are on the ground-floor, 
which is always twelve or fifteen feet above the side- 
walk. The suite is composed of three or four rooms 
(sometimes more), divided one from another by 
portieres. Each room is in a different style. One 
contains dark furniture and hangings, oil paintings, 
costly art treasures, majestical tropical plants ; an- 
other, in Oriental style, invites the visitor to cosy 




Jonathan and his Continent. 



47 



chats among its divans and screens ; another, per- 
haps, has books, etchings, and antiquities of all 
kinds ; another, in the style of a boudoir, will be 
strewn with knick-knacks, light bric-a-brac, water- 
colours, statuettes, etc., in artistic disorder ; yet 
another may serve as music-room — here, no carpets, 
the parquet floor is waxed, the walls are unadorned — 
all has been thought out with intelligence. Flowers 
in every room shed sweet fragrance. When all the 
suite is lighted up, and the portieres looped back, the 
effect is enchanting ; and when a score of American 
women, elegant, handsome, and witty, add life to the 
scene, I can assure you that you are not in a hurry 
to consult your watch. 

The luxury, displayed at receptions, dinners, and 
dances, surpasses European imagination. At a ball, 
given in New York in the month of February, 1888, 
the walls were covered with roses, which did not cost 
less than £2,000. When one considers that the 
supper, and everything else, was on the same scale, 
it becomes doubtful whether such luxury is to be 
admired. I was present one evening at a dinner, 
given in the large dining-hall at Delmonico's restaur- 
ant, New York. We were eighty-seven guests at an 
immense round table. The centre of the board was 
covered with a gigantic star of flowers, roses, arum 
lilies, and heliotrope. At that season lilies were 
worth a dollar each ; and, all through the winter, 
the price of roses was from a quarter to two dollars 
apiece, according to kind. The Americans at this 
feast estimated the star of flowers at £1,500 or £1,600. 



4 8 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



At a dinner party given recently at Delmonico's, 
I heard that each menu had a chain attached, consist- 
ing of pearls and diamonds, and valued at 1,000 
dollars. Is this luxury ? Surely it is bad taste, not 
to say vulgarity. 

The principal clubs, in the large American cities, 
are princely habitations, full of everything that can 
minister to man's well-being. The American clubs 
are as luxurious as those of London ; but this is the 
only resemblance which there is between them. The 
clubs, in large English towns, are sad and solemn ; 
those in the American cities are bright and gay. In 
New York, Boston, Chicago, etc., the club is not 
merely a place where a man goes to read the papers, 
or to dine when his family is out of town ; it is a 
place where men meet for converse, and to enjoy 
various relaxations. All the members know each 
other almost intimately. 

The doors of American clubs are often opened to 
ladies, except in Boston, I am told, where no oppor- 
tunity for the display of Anglomania is neglected. I 
was present at a very grand ball given by the Union 
League Club of New York; and when I lectured in the 
Union League Club of Chicago, at the invitation of 
the members, there were a great number of ladies 
invited to be present. 

Americans amuse themselves gaily, and ladies are 
always of the party. They have not the English 
tendency to convert their pleasures into funeral 
services. 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



The hospitality of American clubs is thoughtfully 
and generously extended to foreigners who visit the 
States. I had not been a fortnight in America before 
I was " put up " as honorary member of nearly all 
the New York clubs. In the other large cities I 
visited, I met with the same amiability, the same 
eager expression of cordiality. 

A charming little club, but this one has no preten- 
sion to luxuriousness, is the Authors' Club in New 
York. It only has three rooms, very modestly 
furnished, where one may meet some of America's 
most charming writers, playing at Bohemia, and 
chatting over a cigar. Once a fortnight there is a 
reunion. A simple supper is served at ten o'clock : 
roast chickens, green peas, and potatoes ; cheese and 
beer. The members are waiting to introduce cham- 
pagne until Congress has passed the International 
Copyright Bill. One hardly thinks of the fare in the 
company of this aristocracy of American talent and 
intellect. To these gentlemen I owe many a delight- 
ful hour passed in their midst. 

A very interesting little ceremony takes place at 
the Authors' Club on New Year's night. On the 
evening of the 31st December the members of the 
club muster in force at their snug quarters in Twenty- 
fourth Street. At two or three minutes to twelve all 
the lights are put out, and " Auld lang syne " is 
sung in chorus, to bid good-bye to the year that is 
passing away. As soon as the clock has struck the 
midnight hour*, the lights are relit, all the company 

* I think a clock is borrowed for the occasion. 



50 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



strike up " He 's a jolly good fellow," and there is a 
general hand-shaking and wishing of good wishes for 
the coming year. Then everyone dives into his 
memory for an anecdote, a good joke, or an amusing 
reminiscence, and the evening is prolonged till two 
or three o'clock. I had the good luck to be present 
at the last of these merry meetings. Mark Twain 
presided, and I need not tell you with what spirited 
and inexhaustible mirth the celebrated humorist did 
the honours of the evening. 

In houses, in clubs, in offices, one cannot help 
admiring the ingenious forethought, the wonderful 
care, with which the smallest wants and the slightest 
commodities of life have been studied : it seems as if 
there were nothing left to desire. 

It is impossible, however, in speaking of American 
interiors, to pass over in silence a certain eyesore, 
which meets your sight at every turn. 

The most indispensable, most conspicuous, piece 
of furniture in America is the spittoon. All rooms 
are provided with this object of prime necessity ; you 
find one beside your seat in the trains, under your 
table in the restaurants : impossible to escape the 
sight of the ugly utensil. In the hotel corridors, 
there is a spittoon standing sentinel outside every 
door. In public edifices, the floors are dotted with 
them, and they form the line all up the stairs. 

The Americans, used to these targets from the 
tenderest age, are marvellously adroit at the use of 
them : they never miss their aim. I saw some really 



Jonathan and his Continent, 



5i 



striking feats of marksmanship; but perhaps the best 
of all at the Capitol, in Washington. 

The Supreme Court of Judicature was sitting. 
As I entered, an advocate was launching thunders of 
eloquence. All at once he stopped, looked at a 
spittoon which stood two yards off, aimed at it, and, 
krrron, craaahk, ptu ! — right in the bull's-eye ! Then on 
he went with his harangue. I looked to see the 
seven judges and the public applaud and cry " Bravo! " 
Not a murmur ; the incident passed completely un- 
noticed. Probably there was not a man in the hall 
who could not say to himself: " There's nothing in 
that ; I could do as much." 



52 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



CHAPTER IX. 

Society Jottings. — Blue Blood in the United States. — 
Fashionable Society. — Plutocracy. — Parvenus and Arrives. 
— Literary and Artistic Society. — Provincialism. — All the 
Americans have two Family Names. — Colonels and Judges. 
— American Hospitality. — Terrapin and Raw Duck. 

WORD about American aristocracy, to 
begin with. 

What, American aristocracy ? 
Yes, certainly. 
I assure you that there exist, in America, social 
sanctuaries into which it is more difficult to penetrate 
than into the most exclusive mansions of the Fau- 
bourg Saint-Germain or of Mayfair and Belgravia. 

There are in Philadelphia ; in Beacon Street, 
Boston; in Washington Square (north side), New 
York ; in Virginia ; in Canal Street (right side), New 
Orleans, Americans who look upon common mortals 
with much more pity and contempt than the Mont- 
morencys of France or the Howards of England. 

Americans, not having any king to give them 
titles of nobility, have created an aristocracy for 
themselves. This aristocracy boasts as yet no dukes, 
marquises, earls, or barons, but the blue blood is 
there, it appears — Dutch blood — and that is sufficient. 

When a European nobleman arrives in the States, 
the American aristocracy leave cards upon him at 




Jonathan and his Continent. 



53 



the hotel where he has alighted. He may perhaps be 
personally known to none ; but all nobilities are 
kindred everywhere — it is an act of international 
courtesy. The European nobleman, who often goes 
to America for a downed wife, is much obliged to 
them, and returns all the visits paid him. 

A New York lady, who is quite an authority upon 
such matters, told me one day that Society in New 
York was composed of only four hundred persons. 
Outside this company of elite t all Philistines. 

Money or celebrity may allow you to enter intc 
this charmed circle, but you will never belong to it. 
You will be in it, but not of it. The lady in question 
entered also into very minute details on the subject 
of what she called the difference between " Society 
people" and "people" in Society"; but, in spite ol 
all her explanations, I confess I did not seize all the 
delicate nuances she tried to convey. All I clearly 
understood was that the aristocracy of birth exists in 
America, not only in the brains of those who form 
part of it, but in the eyes of their compatriots. 

The desire to establish an aristocracy of some 
sort was bound to haunt the breast of the Americans; 
it was the only thing that their dollars seemed unable 
to procure them. 

The second aristocracy is the aristocracy of money 
— plutocracy. To belong to this it is not sufficient 
to be a millionaire ; you must, I am told, belong to a 
third generation of millionaires. Of such are the 
Astors, Vanderbilts, and company. Three quarters 

5 * 



54 



Jonathan and his Continent, 



of " nobility " are the necessary key to this little 
world. The first generation makes the millions, the 
second generation is parvenue, the third is arrivee. 
In the eyes of these people to have from five to ten 
thousand a year is to be in decent poverty ; to have 
forty or fifty thousand a year is to be in easy cir- 
cumstances. 

The third aristocracy is the aristocracy of talent, 
literary and artistic society. This third aristocracy 
is incontestably the first, if you will excuse the 
Hibernianism. 

I do not think that one could find anywhere, or 
even imagine, a society more cultivated, more affable, 
more hospitable, more witty, or more brilliant. I 
should like just here to indulge in a string of adjec- 
tives a la Mme. de Sevigne. 

One of the consequences of the position which 
woman takes in the United States is that, in good 
American drawing-rooms, conversation is never dull. 

" If I were queen," exclaimed Mme. Recamier 
one day, " I would command Mme. de Stael to talk 
to me all day long." One would like to be able 
to give the same order to plenty of American 
women. In their company conversation never flags, 
and always remains within the domains of causerie; 
they glide lightly from one subject to another, extract- 
ing something fresh from each ; pass from the serious 
to the gay, even to the frivolous, without becoming 
common-place; soar again to lofty heights, but do 
not disdain to come down to gossip for a minute or 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



55 



two : all this without a grain of affectation, but with 
a charm of naturalness that is delightfully winning. 

Frenchwomen are the only ones I know who can 
compare with the American lady in charm of con- 
versation ; and, even then, I am obliged to admit two 
things : that the American women of intellectual 
society are often more natural than their French 
rivals, and that they make less effort to charm. In a 
word, with them you are amiable without having to 
be gallant ; and none of those stereotyped compli- 
ments, which so often spoil the charm of a conversa- 
tion between a man and a woman, are expected of 
you. 

In this society the reunions are not only veritable 
feasts for the mind; the heart also plays its part. 
You are welcomed with such cordiality that you feel 
at once among friends — friends whom you will have 
profound regret at being obliged to quit so soon, and 
with whom you hope to keep up relations all your 
days. 

When the steamer left New York harbour, and I 
was bound for Europe, I hardly knew whether the 
desire to see my own country again was stronger than 
my regret at leaving America. 

After all, thought I, I am not saying adieu to 
the Americans, but au revoir ; a seven days' journey, 
and I can be among them again. 

The large towns of America, even New York, are 
provincial in this sense : everyone is interested in 
what the others do. It is not Paris, still less London. 



56 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



Thanks to that indefatigable meddler, the American 
reporter, who thrusts his nose everywhere, the 
slightest incidents of private life are made public, and 
commented upon right and left immediately. You 
need only live a couple of months in one of the large 
American cities, no matter which, in order to know 
everyone, and all their doings. 

The mind of the Americans is always on the 
alert. They enter into everything, everything 
interests them, and there is always some fresh subject 
for conversation. If it is not a social event, or a 
literary or political one, it is a little scandal, a new 
religious sect, a new spiritualistic imposture — faith- 
healing, mind-cure;* conversation never dies for 
want of subjects. Exclaim that it is eccentricity if 
you like, and you will not be far wrong ; but add that 
it is life, and you will be right. It is an existence 
more interesting than French life in the provinces, as 
the French poet has described it : — 

"You waken, rise, and dress, go out to see the town ; 
Come home to dine or sup, and then to sleep lie down." 

The Americans, and that in every station of life, 
have almost always three names : one Christian name 
and two family ones : George Washington Smith, 
Benjamin Franklin Jones, William Tell Brown. I 
should not have been astonished to make the acquaint- 

* This new craze was upon every tongue at the beginning of the 
year. I was assured that, " being ill, you have only to determine 
with all your soul that you will get well, and you are forthwith 
restored to health." Mind is universal : you are part of the univer- 
sal mind, and nothing can really ail you. So runs the jargon of the 
sect. 



Jonathan .and his Continent. 



57 



ance of a Mr. Napoleon Bonaparte Robinson. The 
celebrities do not escape it any more than the rest : 
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, John Greenleaf 
Whittier, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Thomas Bailey 
Aldrich, Richard Watson Gilder, James Russell 
Lowell, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Ward Beecher, 
etc., etc. Can one not see in these double names a 
title which the father thinks he confers on his child 
at the baptismal font ? 

All new societies have the same weaknesses. On 
the morrow of the Great Revolution, did we not call 
our children Epaminondas, Leonidas, Darius, Napo- 
leon, etc. ? 

Every American,with the least self-respect, is colonel 
or judge. Few escape it, as Mark Twain once remarked 
of the decoration of the Legion of Honour. We are 
quits, Mark. America has a hundred times as many 
colonels as we have knights of the Legion of 
Honour. 

When you are presented to a gentleman in an 
American drawing-room, and you have unfortunately 
not caught his name, there is no need to try and 
repair the evil ; call him " Colonel," nine times out 
of ten it is safe ; if luck should be against you, 
call him "Judge," and you are pretty sure to be 
right. 

If, however, pursued by the Fates, you should dis- 
cover that your interlocutor is neither colonel nor 
judge, you have yet another resource — call him 
" Professor," and you are out of your difficulty : an 



58 Jonathan and his Continent. 



American always professes something, an art, a 
religion, a science, and you are risking nothing. 

I met a few American Colonels who had recently 
been promoted misters. They were so proud of their 
new title that they insisted on being addressed thus. 

American hospitality deserves the reputation 
which it enjoys in Europe. If it errs, it is perhaps 
on the side of prodigality. But how criticise hosts 
so amiable and so cordial ? 

American hospitality is princely. You are not 
often invited, even in houses where the daily menu is 
of the most appetising, to go and share the family 
dinner. You are not invited to dine — a. fete is got up 
for you. If this cannot be managed, you are seldom 
invited at all. 

You generally find you have been asked to a 
banquet : oysters, soup, hors d'ceuvre, fish, releves, entrees, 
sorbets,roasts, stew of terrapin, game (raw canvas-back 
duck, when in season), salads — five or six vegetables, 
pastry, sweets, cheese, ices and dessert, the whole 
washed down with the choicest wines, Chateau- Yquem, 
Amontillado, iced champagne, Chateau- Lafitte, and 
such precious beverages. 

In good American houses the cooking is excellent ; 
you will not find better in London and Paris. 

The most recherche of American dishes is terrapin 
stew : when in season, it figures at every feast. The 
flavour is so pronounced that one is bound to think 
it either delicious or detestable. 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



59 



Am I obliged to tell you which I think it? 
An American asked me one day whether I liked 
terrapin. 

I replied : " It is nothing but polite to bow to the 
customs of a country one visits. Terrapin is eaten 
in the United States, and I eat it." 

Canvas-back duck is a great delicacy. It is hung 
in front of a fire for a few minutes only. The first 
time this purple meat is presented to you, it horrifies 
you ; but I advise you to try and surmount your 
repugnance — the dish is exquisite. 

In France, the English have the reputation of 
liking all kinds of meat very much undercooked. It 
is only one of the thousand absurd stories told about 
them. They prefer their meat very much cooked, 
on the contrary. 

One of the many jokes on the subject of canvas- 
back duck which I heard was this : 

One of these birds having been served to an 
Englishman, he, after a glance at it, called the waiter 
and said to him : 

" Pass through the kitchen with it once more, 
please." 



6o 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



CHAPTER X. 



Millionaires. — A List of the Great American Fortunes. — The 
Stock Exchange. — A Billionaires House. — Benevolent 
Acts. — A Democracy Ruled by many Kings. 



1 



AM afraid it will make my readers' lips water, 
but here is a list of some American fortunes, 
as I have heard them stated : — 



Name. 

J. Gould 
J. W. Mackay 
C. Vanderbilt 
J. P. Jones 
J. J. Astor 
W. Stewart 
G. Bennett 



Capital. 
£55,000,000 
50,000,000 
25,000,000 
20,000,000 
18,000,000 

8,000,000 
6,000,000 



Revenue at 5 °/ 
£2,750,000 
2,500,000 
1,250,000 
1,000,000 

900,000 
400,000 
300,000 



These are the princes of the Land of the Dollar. 
The largest English fortunes fall short of these 
figures. The Duke of Westminster's is reckoned at 
only £16,000,000 ; that of the Duke of Sutherland 
at £6,000,000; the Duke of Northumberland has 
£5,000,000 ; and the Marquis of Bute £4,000,000. 

It is in mines and railways especially that the 
colossal fortunes have been made. 

In France, with their fortunes translated into 
francs, Messrs. Jay Gould and J. W. Mackay would 
be billionaires ; it takes a larger word than millionaire 
to give an idea of the opulence of these men, and I 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



61 



beg to suggest to the editors of French dictionaries 
the addition of the word, 

"Milliardaire, or Billionaire — a person pos- 
sessing at least a milliard. This phenomenon is 
found in America." 

Needless to say that, with his millions on millions, 
Mr. Jay Gould is a power. I was told in America 
that this man went to New York with only a few 
dollars in his pocket, and for some time earned a 
living by selling mousetraps. He now holds the ' 
American Stock Exchange in the hollow of his 
hand ; instead of mice, he goes for bulls and 
bears, and stocks rise and fall at his whim. 
Other speculators are glad to pick up the crumbs 
that fall from his fingers. As for contending with 
him, as well try to break the bank at Monte Carlo 
with a sixpenny-piece. 

I have not seen the town house or the country 
house of Mr. Gould ; but I know that in the grounds 
of the latter stand conservatories estimated to be 
worth £50,000. I trust this will give an idea of what 
the rest may be. In these jottings, taken by the 
Way, I can scarcely do more than put the reader on 
the track of that which can be seen in America. 

I cannot guarantee that Mr. Gould is a happy 
man. Concerning immense fortunes, a witty Ameri- 
can friend, rich in moderation and a great philosopher, 
said to me one day : 

" No man can own more than a million dollars. 
When his bank account outgrows that, he does not 
own it ; it owns him, and he becomes its slave." 



62 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



The two kings of American plutocracy are Messrs. 
Vanderbilt and Astor. The name of king applies to 
them less on account of the size of their fortune 
than the generous use they make of it. They have 
founded hospitals, museums, and libraries, and are 
known for the generosity with which they respond to 
appeals for help in philanthropical causes. Shortly 
before my arrival in America, Mr. Vanderbilt had 
given 500,000 dollars to found a hospital in New 
York. Mrs. Astor had just given 225,000 dollars 
towards the funds of the Cancer Hospital. 

The Vanderbilt mansion, in Fifth Avenue, New 
York, is a princely habitation. One might fill a 
volume in giving a complete description of the 
treasures that are crowded into it. The luxury on all 
sides is extreme. In the bath-room, I am told, the 
walls are all mirrors painted thickly with trails of 
morning glories, so that the bather seems to be in a 
bower of flowers. In plate and pictures, several million 
dollars must have been spent. The pictures hang in 
two spacious, well-lighted rooms. They number one 
hundred and seventy-four works, from the brushes of 
great modern masters, including the "Sower" and 
seven other masterpieces of Jean Francois Millett, 
three Rosa Bonheurs, seven Meissoniers, Turners, 
Geromes, the " Bataille de Rezonville " by Detaille, 
seven pictures by Theodore Rousseau, and beautiful 
examples of Alma Tadema, Sir F. Leighton, John 
Linnell, Bouguereau, Corot, Dore, Bonnat, and 
Munkacsy. In the entrance-hall hangs a portrait of 
Vanderbilt L, founder of the dynasty. 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



63 



The Americans, having no king in our sense of 
the word, make the most of those they have, 
Republicans though they be. To read the pedigrees, 
published in full every time a death occurs in one of 
these rich families, is highly entertaining. A Mrs. 
Astor died while I was in America, and, after the 
enumeration of her charms and virtues, which were 
many, came the list of John Jacobs from whom her 
husband had sprung. The Astors were all John 
Jacobs apparently, and were mentioned as John 
Jacob L, John Jacob II., John Jacob III. The line 
does not go back very far, John Jacob I. having gone 
to America as a poor emigrant early in this century, 
I believe, and laid the foundation of the present 
grandeur of his House by trading in furs. 

It will not do to inquire too closely into the way 
in which some of America's millionaires have amassed 
wealth. Strange stories are told of men so grasping 
that they stopped at nothing, even to the ruining of 
their own sons. When I saw Mr. Bronson Howard's 
clever play, The Henrietta, in which he portrays a son 
so madly engrossed by the excitement of gambling 
on the Stock Exchange as to try and absorb even his 
father's millions, I thought the picture was over- 
drawn. Americans, however, told me that the case 
was historical, but with the characters reversed — 
which made it still more odious. 

As for the colossal fortunes of railway kings, it is 
well known how thousands of small ones go to make 
them ; how the rich man's palace is too often built 
with the stones of hundreds of ruined homes. 



6 4 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



There is no other name than king used in speak- 
ing of the few rich financiers who hold the bulk of 
the railway stock in America. But they are not the 
only ones. There are oil kings, copper kings, silver 
kings, and I know not what other majesties in 
America ; and when you see the power possessed by 
these, and the numberless Trusts, Combinations, 
and Pools — a power pressing often very sorely on the 
million — you wonder how the Americans, who found 
one King one too many, should submit so patiently 
to being governed by scores. 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



65 



CHAPTER XL 

The American Girl. — Her Liberty. — Her Manners. — Respect 
for Woman. — Youthful Reminiscences. — Flirtation Per- 
fected. — The 11 Boston." — Why the Young American Lady 
does not Object to the Society of Men. — European Coats 
of Arms Regilt and Redeemed from Pawn. — Americans 
of the Faubourg Saint Germain. — Lady Randolph 
Churchill. — Mating of May and December. — Stale Theme 
of A merican Plays. — An Angel. — The Tell-tale Collodion. 
— The Heroine of 11 L' Abbe Const anting — What 
American Girls Admire in a Man, 




HE liberty enjoyed by American girls 
astonishes the English as much as the 
liberty of the English girl astonishes the 
French. 



From the age of eighteen the American girl is 
allowed almost every liberty. She takes the others. 

She can travel alone, and go to concerts and 
even to theatres, unattended by a chaperone. 

She is supplied with pocket-money, which she 
spends at her own sweet will in bonbons, knick- 
knacks, and jewels. If there is none left for the 
milliner and dressmaker, Papa is coaxed to pay them. 
She visits and receives whom she pleases, or rather 
those who please her. She has her own circle of 
acquaintances. If, at a ball, she meet with a young 
man who takes her fancy — I do not say touches 
her heart — she savs to him : " I am at home on such 



66 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



a day : come and see me." Next day he may send 
her a ticket for the theatre, and be her escort for the 
evening. He may bring her flowers, offer her refresh- 
ments after the play, and take her home in a carriage. 
In America all this is the most natural thing in the 
world. This leads to no intimacy : for a few days 
later, it may happen that he meets the young lady at 
a ball, and she comes up to him and says : "I want 
to present you to a friend ; do tell me your name, I 
quite forget it." 

The American girl, who appears to us French so 
giddy, and even fast, seems to me to act according to 
the dictates of common sense. Tired of the old 
formula, " A lady cannot do that — it would be im- 
proper," she says; " I will do it ; and if I choose to 
do it, it becomes proper." It is for woman herself to 
make the law on these matters. " Why should I not 
go to the theatre alone ? " she says. "If your streets 
are impure, it is for you to cleanse them. Why 
should not I receive my ball-partners who please me ? 
If one of them were to profit by my seeing him alone 
in the drawing-room to take a liberty with me, he 
would be an ill-bred fellow, and I should promptly 
have him shown out of the house ; and certainly it is 
not for such as he that I should change my habits." 

It is the respect that woman inspires in American 
men which allows the young girl to go about with 
such freedom, and to queen it all through the States. 
Jonathan might give more than one lesson on this 
subject to the men of the Old World, even to the 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



6 7 



Frenchman, who, in the matter of politeness, lives a 
good deal on the reputation of his ancestors. Jona- 
than's respect for woman is disinterested, purely 
platonic. In France, this respect takes the form of 
a politeness which verges on gallantry, and is often 
not disinterested. A Frenchman will always stand 
back to let a lady pass; but he will profit by the 
occasion to take a good look at her. The American, in 
similar circumstance, will respectfully lower his eyes. 

In trains, where the seats are constructed to hold 
two persons, you will see the American seek a place 
from one end of the train to the other before he will 
go and seat himself by the side of a young girl. He 
will only do so when there is no help for it. I have 
many times even noticed men standing up in the 
local trains, rather than run the risk of incommoding 
a young girl by sharing a seat with her. And I am 
not speaking now of gentlemen only, but of men 
belonging to the middle, if not lower, class — if the 
word " class " may be used in speaking of the 
Americans. 

With what pleasure I remember the young 
American girls whom I occasionally met at Parisian 
parties in my youthful days. Their pretty bright 
faces, their elegance, their unconventional charm of 
manner, and animated, natural conversation — all these 
enchanted me. One never felt awkward with them. 
Whereas, with a young French girl, I could generally 
find nothing but absurd commonplaces to say, in the 
presence of Jonathan's merry maidens I lost my 

6 



68 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



timidity, and could chat away with as little embarrass- 
ment as I would with a young brother-officer of my 
regiment. 

The American girl is still without rivals in Parisian 
drawing-rooms, where she is more and more sought 
after. Men seek her for her gaiety, wit, or beauty ; 
mothers look favourably upon her for her dollars. 
The younger women tear her to shreds; nothing is 
wanting to her success. 

It was to her that Paris owed the introduction of 
that attractive dance, the " Boston." An inspiration, 
this dance ! 

Someone, I forget whom, has remarked of the 
waltz: "It is charming, it is fascinating; but one 
cannot chat." With the " Boston " it is different : 
one can dance that, and chat, and flirt too. Now a 
flirtation with an American girl is immensely agree- 
able, on account of the perfection which she brings 
to the art. To be gallant is no longer sufficient ; to 
say things that are pretty, but insipid and common- 
place, will not do at all ; you must surpass yourself 
in wit and amiability, while keeping well within the 
bounds of the strictest propriety. 

The " Boston " lends itself admirably to this 
charming amusement. It is voluptuously slow; a 
go-as-you-please dance, offering the added charm of 
a delightful tete-a-tete, when your partner is a bright 
and pretty girl. 

I also used to get a great deal of diversion in 
looking at the American girls clearing the buffet. 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



6 9 



How they would fall-to ! How they made the ices dis- 
appear, and tossed off punch, champagne, or any- 
thing that came to their pretty little hands ! With 
what disdain they passed over the syrups and eau 
sucree that the French girls timidly sipped, looking 
all the while to see whether Mamma was not staring 
round-eyed to show that she disapproved of such 
dissipation. They must have something serious and 
satisfying. 

" A little more champagne, mademoiselle ? " 
" Yes, please." 

" Another of these little cakes ? " 
"Yes, please." 

Only the musicians, as they struck up the first 
bars of the next dance, had fascination enough to 
draw them away from the refreshment-room. 

And what spirit there was in their dancing ! What 
animation ! What eyes lit up with pleasure ! Not a 
moment's flagging: they danced with as much 
suppleness at five in the morning as at the beginning 
of the evening. And why not, indeed ? Such 
pleasures are harmless ; and it is not because a 
woman has danced much in her girlhood that she 
should lead her husband a dance, when she has 
one. 

Good scholars are as easy to discover in the 
recreation-ground as in the class-room. The morality 
of a youth is in direct proportion to the delight he 
takes in play ; that of a girl may be measured by her 
gaiety and high spirits. 

6 * 



70 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



I shall never forget a young American girl who 
sat at the same table as myself on board the 
steamer. The dear child, who was about seven- 
teen, performed prodigies. I could scarcely believe 
my eyes, and watched her with never-flagging in- 
terest. What appetite ! What a little table d'hote 
ogress ! I trembled for our supplies, and wondered 
whether the Company had foreseen the danger. 

First of all, at seven in the morning, tea and 
bread-and-butter was taken to the hungry one in her 
cabin. At half-past eight, she breakfasted. At this 
meal she generally went straight through the bill of 
fare. At eleven, she had beef-tea and biscuits 
brought to her on deck. Lunch-time found her 
ready for three courses of solid food, besides pastry, 
fruit, etc. At five, she had tea. At six o'clock, she 
did valiantly again ; and at ten, she was regularly 
served with a welsh rabbit, or some other tasty 
trifle. Notwithstanding this, I rarely met her on 
deck, or in the corridors, but she was munching 
sweets, gingerbread, or chocolate. 

After all, there are so few distractions on board 
ship ! Men smoke, and perhaps play poker. Some 
people sleep, some try to think, but unsuccessfully, 
others read ; some ladies knit. The American girl 
eats. 

The American girl likes men's society for several 
reasons. First, because she is well-educated and 
able to talk on almost all topics. She can talk 
knick-knacks and pretty nonsense ; but if she knows 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



71 



how to describe the " cunningest bonnet " lately in- 
vented in Paris, she can also tell you all about Octave 
Feuillet's latest novel, or even Herbert Spencer's 
latest work. She likes men's society because it en- 
larges her circle of acquaintances, and also because 
it increases her chances of making a good match. 
No matter how much of a butterfly she may be, she 
never loses sight of the future. She does not say, as 
she sits musing on marriage, " What kind of man shall 
I suit?" but, " What kind of man shall I choose?" 

The society of men has all the less danger for her 
that her virtue rests on a firm basis of calculation. 
She will not embark in the romance until she sees 
her way to profit — and profits — thereby. Fortune, 
or a title, that is her aim. She keeps it in view, 
even in the most touching moments. Between two 
kisses, she will perhaps ask her lover : " Are you 
rich ? " It is the pinch of rhubarb between two 
layers of jam. 

The constant aspiration of these young Republi- 
cans is to be one day countess, marchioness, or 
duchess. 

The number of European coats-of-arms which 
have been taken out of pawn, or regilt, with American 
dollars is enormous. 

Not long ago a writer on the staff of the Paris 
Figaro counted, among the guests in one of the most 
select drawing-rooms of the Faubourg Saint-Germain, 
thirty-seven American ladies, bearing thirty-seven 
names of the most authentic French nobility. To 
name only those which are present at the moment in 



72 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



my memory: the Princess Murat, mother of the 
Duchesse de Mouchy, is American ; the Marquise de 
Chasseloup-Laubat is American ; the Comtesse de 
Saint-Ronan ; la Generale de Charette, the Comtesse 
de Chevigne, and the Comtesse de Ganay are 
Americans. The daughters of the Great Democracy 
have become not only French in heart, but as 
Royalist as the most ultramontane of our old 
dowagers. 

Everyone knows how many American women the 
English aristocracy counts in its bosom, and that 
that Tory and most powerful political association, 
called the Primrose League, originated with Lady 
Randolph Churchill, the young and handsome daugh- 
ter of Mr. Jerome, of New York. 

How many noble chevaliers d'industrie have ex- 
ploited the American market, and at a bound become 
accepted suitors by some of Jonathan's daughters ! 
It is known that Pranzini was in correspondence 
with the daughter of a wealthy New York banker, 
to whom he would probably be married now under 
the title of Count (I forget whom), had not the cuffs 
which he left behind in poor Marie Regnault's room 
put the police on his track. 

That passion for rich marriages, which burns in 
the heart of so many young American women, often 
leads to disastrous results. 

If one may trust one's eyes, American law allows 
young girls to marry their grandfathers, or at least 
the contemporaries of those worthies. 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



73 



It is not rare, I may say it is quite common, to 
see girls of eighteen and twenty married to men of 
seventy and over. 

As a Frenchman, I know it scarcely becomes me 
to throw the first stone at my neighbour for this : 
France is admittedly a country where manages de 
convenance are common. Still, I must say the differ- 
ence is enormous. In France, it is the parents who 
are to blame, and not the girls. They try to secure 
for their daughters what they are pleased to call a 
position ; whilst, in America, it is the young girl her- 
self who chooses her husband : she alone is re- 
sponsible for this crime against Cupid's laws. She 
has not, either, the French girl's excuse — ignorance 
of the world ; she knows better what awaits her on 
leaving the church. A French girl sometimes passes 
straight from the convent to the marriage altar, 
without her consent having been asked, or even her 
opinion consulted. And, again, I must add that if 
French parents often cause a girl of twenty to marry 
a man twice her age, they would shudder at the idea 
of giving her into the arms of an old man. 

The young American, indulged and petted by her 
father, counts that an old husband will be more 
likely to put up with her caprices, and gratify all her 
whims, than a young man whose fortune was not 
made. " A young husband," she says to herself, 
" is all very fine ; but there is my father, who does 
just what I please ; I am pretty, and have hosts of 
men to tell me so every day ; I am free to go where 
I like and receive whom I like ; I spend as much as 



74 Jonathan and his Continent. 



I like : shall I exchange all this for a husband, who 
will hamper me with a household and perhaps a 
large family ; who will talk of stocks, and perhaps 
preach economy ; who will bore me with the prices 
of grain or cotton-seed oil, and give me the head- 
ache with listening to his politics and heaven knows 
what ? No, no ; I will take a husband who will 
think of nothing but satisfying my caprices." Per- 
haps she adds, in her wisdom : " A man of seventy 
or eighty I shall not have to put up with very long." 

This kind of marriage is the well-worn theme of 
many American comedies. A woman is married to 
an old man or a rich matter-of-fact merchant. A 
young lover of former days, who at the time of the 
wedding was travelling abroad, appears upon the scene, 
and is thrown in contact with the young wife. He 
reproaches her with her conduct, and reminds her of 
his love for her, which has never ceased to live in his 
heart. The husband is out of the way, occupied 
with business, wrapped up in money-making, and 
the fair one listens to the tender reproaches of him 
she loved, but dismissed in favour of a richer 
husband. The danger is menacing ; it is a struggle 
between love and duty. Duty triumphs, of course ; 
but the picture of American life remains none the less 
faithful. 

An American told me that he once went a long 
journey in the same railway carriage with an infirm, 
hoary old man of eighty, who was accompanied by 
a girl of scarce more than twenty. This young woman 



Jonathan and his Continent, 



75 



was strikingly beautiful. My American friend ad- 
mitted to me that the sight of her lovely face had the 
effect of making him fall quite in love with her before 
their five days' journey was over. He did not have 
an opportunity of conversing with her ; but on 
arriving at their destination, he resolved to put up at 
the same hotel as the old man, so as to perhaps have 
a chance of making more ample acquaintance with 
his fair charge. To find out the name of the young 
girl and her venerable grandfather, he waited to sign 
his name in the hotel register until the patriarch had 
inscribed his own. Imagine his feelings when he 
read : 

" Mr. X. and wife." 

Here is a joke that I culled from a Washington 
paper. Is it a joke ? 

"A bachelor lately advertised for a wife. A 
typographical error changed his age from 37 to 87 ; 
but it made no difference, for he received over 250 
applications, from ladies ranging in age from 16 to 
60, and all promising love and devotion to the rest of 
his existence." 

Here is another, which I extract from a comic 
paper. The author seems to believe that the 
American mother does not look on such marriages 
with displeasure : 

"Mother. — ' So you have engaged yourself to Mr. 
Jones. You must be a goose. He has neither 
fortune nor position. I know he may one day be 
well off; his grandfather may leave him part of his 
fortune, perhaps.' 



7 6 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



"Daughter. — 'But, mamma, it is his grandfather 
I am engaged to.' 

" Mother. — ' Kiss me, my child ; you are an 
angel ! ' " 

Whatever may be said on the subject, these 
marriages — I was going to say these prostitutions — 
are but the exception ; but the exception is too 
frequent to be possible to pass it by in silence. 

The American girl is past-mistress in the art of 
turning to account her little capital of beauty, youth, 
and virtue. To bring about the realisation of a 
dream, she knows how to employ all love's artillery, 
and if the object of her desire is recalcitrant, she can 
fire red-hot balls. 

The late Alfred Assollant told how an American 
girl succeeded in making a young English lord marry 
her. In certain States of the Union it is sufficient 
to pass the night with a woman to be declared her 
husband by the law in the morning. This damsel, 
it appears, invited the young lord to sup in her own 
room. This is done, or was done, in certain parts 
of America, and morals were perhaps none the 
worse for it. The bait took, and at supper the scion 
of a lordly house got tipsy and went to sleep in the 
maiden's room, all ignorant of the law. 

At daybreak there is a knocking at the door. 
Tableau ! The fair one, all tearful and dishevelled, 
unbolts it, and ushers in the minister, who comes 
followed by the girl's parents and two witnesses, 
who are in the plot. The young lord in vain pro- 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



77 



tests his innocence; he is married then and there, 
and the damsel only consents to his departure after 
having been bribed by a sum of a hundred thousand 
dollars. 

Here is another story of the same stamp, which 
I heard told in America. It is not more authentic 
than Alfred Assollant's, but that which is very certain 
is that such an anecdote could not originate outside 
America. There are two kinds of truth : the truth 
that is true and the truth that might be true ; in 
other words, there is truth to fact as well as truth to 
fiction. 

This is the story, just as it was told : 
An American girl adored a rich, handsome young 
fellow, who unhappily did not respond to her flame. 
One fine day a luminous idea occurs to her. She 
pretends to be ill, and sends to the young man to say 
she would like to see him. He hurries to the home 
of the fair invalid, who receives him lying on a sofa. 
She avows her love, and begs him to give her one 
kiss and bid her a long adieu. The swain bends 
over the sofa. The young lady encircles his neck 
with her arms, draws his head down, and imprints a 
long, lingering kiss on his lips. During this time, a 
photographer, hidden behind the hangings of the 
room, had his camera turned on the young couple. 
Next day the cunning lass sent her unconscious dupe 
a negative of the touching little scene of the day 
before, asking how many copies she should get 
printed. In face of the betraying collodion, and to 
save his honour, the youth saw that there was but 



7 8 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



one thing to be done, and that was to walk to the 
altar, which he did without a murmur. 

So much for caricature, or, if you prefer it, for 
the truth that is not true. 

To return to strict verity, it is perfectly certain 
that an American girl does not fear to let a man 
understand that she loves him, and that, if need be, 
she lets no false modesty prevent her from telling 
him so. Bettina, in " L'Abbe Constantin," divines 
that Jean Reynaud loves her, but that he is scrupu- 
lous about avowing it, and, in order to avoid her, 
asks to be sent to join another garrison. She comes to 
him frankly. She knows that Jean will not make 
the advances, and she does it instead. The scene is 
as true to American life as it is pretty. It is the 
faithful portrait of an American girl, a perfect photo- 
graph : one of those artistic photographs that M. 
Ludovic Halevy is so clever at. 

The real American girl admires male qualities in 
man. The perfumed dandy, dressed in the latest 
fashion — the dude, as he is called in the States — is not 
her admiration ; she prefers a little roughness to too 
much polish. At a large reception, given at the New 
York Union League Club in the early part of the 
year, I asked a young lady who were ten or a dozen 
young men who did not miss a single dance. 

" Oh," she replied, with an air of sovereign con- 
tempt, " a few young dudes, who have been invited by 
the club just to keep up the dancing : marionettes, 
you know." 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



79 



CHAPTER XII. 



The Emancipation of Woman. — Extinction of Man. — War 
against Beards. — Ladies Purifying the Streets of Neiv 
York. — The Ladies "Go it" Alone, and have a "Good 
Time.'" 

a country where woman is a spoilt child, 
*9 petted, and made so much of, who can do 
\ and dare almost anything, it is strange to 
^ find women who are not content with their 

lot, but demand the complete emancipation of their 

sex. 

American women asking for complete emanci- 
pation ! It makes one smile. 

I was talking one evening with Mrs. Devereux 
Blake, the chief of the movement. (She is a lady 
middle-aged, well-preserved, of a fluent, agreeable 
conversation, who has declared war to the knife 
against the tyrant Man.) 

" You must excuse me," I said to her, " if I ask 
questions ; I am anxious to learn. I have submitted 
so many times to the interviewing process in your 
country, that I feel as if I had a right to interview 
the Americans a little in my turn. The American 
woman appears to me ungrateful not to be satisfied 
with her lot. She seems to rule the roast in the 
United States." 

" No," replied Mrs. Blake, " she does not ; but 
she ought." 



8o 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



" But she certainly does," I insisted. 

" De facto, yes ; but de jure, no." 

" What do you want more ? " 

" The right to make laws." 

" What do you mean by that ? " 

" The right of voting for candidates for Congress, 
and even the right to a seat in the House of Repre- 
sentatives." 

" This appears to me a little too exacting, and 
almost unfair," I observed timidly. " You probably 
already make your husbands vote as you please : if, 
added to this, you are going to throw your own votes 
into the electoral urn, it means the extinction of 
man, neither more nor less ; and, as Leon Gozlan 
said, * it is perhaps as well that there should be two 
sexes, for some time longer at all events.' My dear 
lady, you are spoilt children, and spoilt children are 
never satisfied." 

I felt a little out of place in this energetic lady's 
drawing-room, almost like a wolf in the fold. Never- 
theless, I learned very interesting things that 
evening. 

A lady, who enjoyed that most esteemed of 
woman's rights, the right to be pretty, gave me 
some very curious details on the subject of New 
York life. We were speaking of the security of 
women in the large towns, and of the risk they ran 
in going out alone after nightfall. 

" I have been struck with the respectability of 
your American streets," I said to her. " One never 
sees vice flaunting by daylight ; and, in the evening, 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



81 



whenever I have been through the great arteries of 
your city, I have never seen anything that could 
shock the eyes of an honest woman. In Paris, the 
boulevards are infested with harlots from eight o'clock 
in the evening; and the evil is much worse in London, 
where from four or five in the afternoon a whole 
district is given over to them." 

"You are right," said the lady; "but if the 
streets of New York are respectable, it is thanks to 
us. If we had waited until the men swept our pave- 
ments, we should have had to wait a long time. We 
cleaned them ourselves." 

" What do you mean ? " 

" A few years ago, several young women, among 
whom I might name members of our best society, 
resolved upon going out alone in the evenings, and 
of striking the first man who dared to accost them. 
They persevered for a long while, and finally suc- 
ceeded in accomplishing the disinfection of the main 
streets. Vice still exists ; but it keeps within doors, 
and hides instead of parading itself. If you are able 
to go out at night with your wife, or even your young 
daughters; if a lady can go to the theatre alone, 
and, if it please her, return home on foot, it is to 
us that thanks are due. And do you not think that 
women, young, good-looking, and well-bred, who 
could master their disgust so far as to do that which 
the authorities were too cowardly to undertake, are 
not worthy to have a deliberative voice in the coun- 
cils of the nation ? " 

I could not answer this. 



82 Jonathan and his Continent. 



Certainly, woman's influence upon public morality 
is most salutary, and ought to be given free play. I 
do not doubt that, if women occupied seats in all 
Town Councils, the streets would promptly be puri- 
fied, and women would be able to go into the public 
thoroughfares at all hours as freely as their husbands 
and brothers. 



I am going to launch a rather dangerous asser- 
tion. 

It seems to me that the American woman does 
not render to man a hundredth part of the adoration 
he renders to her. If love could spring from grati- 
tude, Jonathan would be the most beloved of men ; 
but does it ever spring from such a source ? 

In the eyes of the American woman, man has 
his good points. He ensures her a good position 
when he marries her ; he works hard to satisfy her 
smallest wishes ; and so long as his signature has 
any value at the foot of a cheque, this will be an 
extenuating circumstance in his favour. 

A young Baltimore lady told me one day that she 
often invited twenty or thirty girl friends to lunch 
with her. Not the shadow of a man at these parties. 
The same kind of entertainment is given by numbers 
of young ladies in Society in other cities. At these 
lunches there often are as many as forty or fifty of 
Brother Jonathan's fair daughters; and they, with 



Jonathan and his Continent, 83 



no other helps than their tongues and their teeth, 
spend three or four hours most merrily without the 
aid of man, and have a " real good time," as they 
call it. 

There are numerous women's clubs in the United 
States. These sanctuaries are never profaned by the 
presence of man. The very postman and tradesmen 
only approach it with bated breath. 

The members have their library, drawing-room, 
dining-room, boudoirs, bedrooms. They make music, 
read, write, chat, and pass time very agreeably. 

One of the most important ladies' clubs is the 
Sorosis Club, of New York. Once a year the ladies 
of Sorosis give a banquet, to which gentlemen, as 
well as ladies, are invited. It was a source of sincere 
regret to me that my engagements in the South pre- 
vented me from accepting the kind invitation of the 
President to join that brilliant gathering at Del- 
monico's. 

This spirit of independence in woman produces 
excellent results, it must be confessed. You find, in 
America, women who, by their talents, have won for 
themselves positions which numbers of men might 
envy. And do not imagine that I am speaking of 
blue-stockings, spectacled spinsters disdained of 
Cupid. Not at all. The American woman has 
always tact enough to remain womanly. Even 
among the heroines of the platform, I have always 

7 



8 4 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



noticed a little touch of coquetry, which proves to 
me that man is not in imminent danger of being 
suppressed in America. 

Only a few days after I set foot in New York, a 
friend took me to visit the offices of the principal 
newspapers of the city. Passing along a corridor in 
The World's offices, I remarked a lady writing in one 
of the rooms. My friend led the way in, and pre- 
sented me to her. I found her to be a pretty 
brunette of about twenty or twenty-two, delightfully 
piquante, and with most distinguished manners. I 
was struck with her simple bearing and her intelli- 
gent expression, and, on leaving the room, naturally 
wanted to know to whom I had had the pleasure of 
being introduced. I learned then that this young 
American girl did all the literary reviewing and gossip 
for the New York World, and took up as large a salary 
as a writer on the staff of the Paris Figaro. 

The St. Nicholas Magazine is conducted by a 
lady. 

Since her husband's death, Mrs. Frank Leslie 
has carried on, under her own management, the 
numerous magazines which issue from the house 
founded by that gentleman. 

The largest newspapers, and all the principal 
Reviews, have ladies on their staffs. 

Miss Mary Louise Booth, who directs the Har- 
per's Bazaar, receives a salary of eight thousand 
dollars. 

The two editors of The Critic are Miss Jeannette 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



85 



Gilder and Mr. Joseph Gilder, sister and brother of 
Richard Watson Gilder, poet and chief editor of the 
Century Magazine, who himself has for colleagues 
Mr. Buel and a talented lady. 
I might name many more. 

The education of the women being, in America, 
very much the same as that of the men, ladies 
naturally may aspire to many employments which, 
in Europe, are looked upon as being the monopoly 
of man. 



7 * 



86 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



CHAPTER XIII. 

Prudery, — "Shocking" Expressions. — Transformation of the 
Vocabulary. — War on Nudities. — The Venus of Milo 
does not escape the Wrath of the Puritans. — Mr. Anthony 
Comstock in Chief Command. — New England Prudes. — 
Tattling or Calumny ? 

fcriJr#HE New England descendants of the 

¥ (Mi T Puritans have inherited a more than 
t/M^} British prudery. 

Charles Dickens speaks, in his Ameri- 
can Notes, of people who covered the nakedness of 
their piano legs with little ornamental frills. 

There still exist worthy creatures who would think 
it indecent to speak of such and such a star as being 
visible to the naked eye. 

The word "leg" is improper; you must say 
" lower limb." Trousers have become "lower gar- 
ments." Instead of going to bed, people "retire"; 
so that the bedroom becomes " retiring-room." 

A lady having said, not long ago, in a Phila- 
delphian drawing-room, that she felt shivers down 
her back, created a veritable panic among the 
hostess's guests. 

I read the following piece of information in a 
New York paper among the news from a certain 
New England city: 

" The authorities have begun a crusade against 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



8 7 



the nude in art. One of the wealthiest gentlemen 
in the city will be proceeded against for keeping in 
his house copies of the Venus de Milo, the Venus 
de Medici, Canova's Venus, Power's Greek Slave, 
the Laocoon, and other works." 

During my stay in New York, I was constantly 
hearing of a certain Mr. Anthony Comstock, who 
had attained celebrity by a campaign he had under- 
taken against nudities. Mr. Comstock visited the 
museums, galleries, exhibitions, and shops, and, 
whenever he found a bit of human flesh portrayed 
in paint or marble, he went before the magistrates 
and had a grand field-day. I must say, for the credit 
of the New Yorkers, that Mr. Comstock had earned 
for himself a reputation as grotesque as it was noisy. 
To take up such a line of censorship is, it seems to 
me, to publish one's own perversity ; and the indi- 
vidual whose mind is so ill-formed that he cannot 
look at an artistic counterfeit presentment of the 
human form divine, without thinking evil thoughts, 
is to be pitied, if not despised. 

But I suppose there will always be quack doctors 
with the cant of virtue on their lips, and vile and 
filthy imaginations in their hearts. 

Be that as it may, the nude in art has been 
having a hard time of it lately. 

Meanwhile, the Americans newspaper seemed 
to look upon Mr. Comstock as a legitimate target 
for their jokes and satire. 



88 Jonathan and his Continent. 



The New England ladies have the reputation of 
being the most easily-shocked women in the world. 
An American gentleman told me that a Philadelphia 
lady, at whose side he was seated one day at table, 
grew red to her very ears at his asking her which 
part of a chicken she preferred, the wing or the leg. 

Are the New England women Saintes — Nitouches ? 

Baron Salvador says that he received from a 
correspondent the following information : 

" There exists, in a certain New England city, a 
fashionable man-milliner, who has a room reserved 
ostensibly for fitting, but really for ladies who do not 
disdain to imbibe privately, through a straw, certain 
American drinks which they would not dare touch in 
public. In this dissimulated bar, under cover of 
silks and satins, they delight to chat on fashion and 
frivolities, while absorbing pretty tipples invented 
for their lords." 

The prettiest part of the affair is, that the hus- 
bands pay for the beverages without knowing it. 

On the bills, the milliner has added so much for 
trimmings (read : iced champagne), so much for lace 
(read : sherry-cobbler) ; and the duped husbands have 
nothing to complain of, except that the new fashions 
demand a great deal of trimming. 

Is this tattle or calumny ? 

I am inclined myself to give very little credence 
to the story. 



Jonathan and his Continent. 89 



CHAPTER XIV. 

John Bull's Cousin German. — A Salutary Lesson. — Women's 
Vengeance. — A Battle with Rotten Eggs. — An Unsavoury 
Omelette. — Tarring and Feathering. — Description of the 
Operation. — An A wkward Quarter-of-an-hour. — Ven- 
geance of a Ladies' School. — A Town Council of Women. 
— Woman's Standing in the States. — Story of a Widow 
and her Two Daughters. 

ONATHAN is the cousin-german of John 
Bull, but yet not so German as one might 
imagine ; for, if Germany supplies America 
with three or four hundred thousand im- 
migrants yearly, these Germans do not Germanise 
America. On the contrary, they themselves become 
Americanised, thanks to that faculty of assimilation 
which they possess in a high degree. 

One strong proof of this is the way in which 
women are treated from one end of the United 
States to the other. And here I may say that in 
this matter Jonathan sets John Bull an example 
which the latter would do well to profit by. 

Whilst English justice gives merely one or two 
months' imprisonment to the man who is found 
guilty of having almost kicked his wife to death, 
an American town is in arms at the mere rumour of 
a man having maltreated a woman. 




Jonathan and his Continent. 



Here are a few scenes which I have come across 
in America : 

Elmore Creel, an inhabitant of Greeve's Run, 
Wirt County, Virginia, had been known for some 
time to have subjected his wife and children to 
harsh treatment. The complaint became, at last, 
so general that an avenging mob took upon itself to 
chastise him. At midnight, Creel's house was sur- 
rounded. Creel was in bed. A squad of masked 
men broke into the house, and, overcoming his 
struggles, tied his hands, took him to the yard, 
and gave him a fearful thrashing with cowhides and 
hickory withes. After whipping him, they untied 
him and let him go, with the warning that another 
visit from them might be looked for if he was not 
kinder to his wife. 

The following I extract from a Pittsburg paper : 
George Burton, a well-to-do man of Ohio, one 
day turned his wife out of the house and left for 
Pittsburg. Next day he returned, bringing with him 
a dashing widow, named Fenton, whom he installed 
in his wife's place. When Mrs. Burton applied for 
admittance, she was sent away, her husband saying 
that he had someone else to care for him now. The 
news spread, and the female neighbours decided to 
avenge the wife's wrongs. After ten o'clock at night, 
three hundred women went to the house and beat 
the doors open. Burton and the dashing widow 
were dragged out, the man being chased several 
blocks, and pelted the while with rotten eggs. The 
widow was pounded and pummelled until the police 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



9* 



rescued her. She and the man were locked up in 
safe keeping. The neighbours then ransacked the 
house, and when they left it the place looked as if 
a cyclone had struck it. It was with great difficulty 
that the objectionable widow was conveyed to the 
train in safety by the police next day, and despatched 
to Trenton, New Jersey, where she came from. 

Sometimes the chastisement takes a comic form. 
There are few distractions in the little western towns, 
and native humour finds an outlet in strange fashions. 
A man who illtreats his wife, or forsakes her for 
another woman, is often tarred and feathered. The 
operation is curious, and satisfies the vengeance of 
the populace, while procuring them an hour's amuse- 
ment. 

The delinquent is led, sometimes to the sound of 
music, to a retired spot. There he is stripped to the 
skin, and coated over with tar from head to foot. 
This done, he is rolled in feathers, which, of course, 
stick to him, and give him the appearance of a huge 
ugly duckling. To put a finishing touch to the opera- 
tions, his clothes are carried off, and the mob wish 
him good luck. 

This chastisement is sometimed applied to a 
woman whose conduct is known to be immoral. In 
such cases it is the women who operate on the 
culprit. They want their husbands and sons to be 
able to get about without danger, and they take 
upon themselves the task of keeping the moral 
atmosphere of the neighbourhood healthy. The 
idea appears primitive, but morality thrives by it. 



g2 Jonathan and his Continent. 



If men may not tar and feather a woman, women 
occasionally give themselves the pleasure of tarring 
and feathering a man, which shows once more how 
privileged woman is in America. On the 12th of 
August, 1887, the editor of a paper in a little town 
in Illinois had to submit to this ignominious opera- 
tion at the hands of about five hundred of his 
townswomen. His crime was that of having spoken 
cavalierly of the feminine morals of the township. 

The following is from the New York World : 
"A few days ago, an editor living in Hammond, 
Indiana, was horsewhipped by three schoolgirls, 
because he published articles about them which they 
called falsehoods. They also threw red pepper in 
his eyes, and this is a crime punishable by long 
sentence in this State ; so that it is expected they 
will be indicted." 

Youth is often indiscreet. Those girls ought to 
have stopped at the horsewhipping, and been happy. 

The susceptibilities of American women are 
sometimes very easily wounded : 

A paper having announced a man's death under 
the heading, "John K. gone to a better home," the 
widow brought an action for libel against the editor. 

The women are not content with beating the men 
in the market-place, they beat them at elections as 
well. During my stay in the States, the town of 
Oskaloosa, in the State of Kansas, returned all the 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



93 



women who put up as candidates for election to the 
Town Council. At the head of the poll was a Mrs. 
Lowman, who was proclaimed Mayor. It was said 
that for a year all the taverns and billiard-rooms of 
the town would be closed. When the result of the 
polling was known, the men pulled very long faces ; 
but they finished by getting used to the idea of petti- 
coat government, and in the evening they serenaded 
their Town Councilwomen. 

The further west one goes, the more apparent 
becomes the power of the women ; the further west 
one goes, the rarer does woman get. Is this the 
reason ? 

To every American hotel there is a ladies' entrance. 
This is to prevent contamination from the possible 
contact of man. When it rains or snows, an awning 
is thrown out over the pavement ; but I daresay a 
permanent triumphal arch will ultimately be deman- 
ded by the ladies. 

In the States of Kansas and Colorado, a woman 
on entering a railway train will touch a man on the 
shoulder, and say almost politely, " I like that seat ; 
you take another." 

I was riding one day in a Chicago tramcar. The 
seats were all occupied ; but in America that does 
not mean that the car is full, and presently the con- 
ductor let in a woman, who came and stood near my 
seat. At the moment of her entry I had my head 
turned, and it might have been twenty or thirty 
seconds before I perceived that she was standing in 
front of me. Then I rose and offered her my place. 



94 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



Do not imagine that she thanked me. She shot me 
a glance which clearly said, " Oh ! you have made 
up your mind at last ; you take your time over it." 
I need not say that she was not a lady ; but, at any 
rate, she was well, even stylishly, dressed, and 
looked highly respectable. The American lady ac- 
cepts graciously and gracefully the homage men 
render her ; but the vulgar woman exacts it as her 
due, and does not feel bound to give any such small 
change of politeness as thanks or smiles. Women 
are everywhere more prone than men to act as 
parvenues. 

The arrival of a woman in any little town of the 
Far West puts the male part of the population in 
revolution. " Whose wife will she become ? " is the 
great question of the day, and all the eligible men 
of the neighbourhood enroll themselves in the list of 
her suitors. 

Here is a little story, the authenticity of which is 
guaranteed by the Dublin Mail : 

Idaho territory lies very far west indeed, and 
there is an alarming scarcity of women there. This 
has been curiously illustrated of late in the town of 
Waggon Wheel. 

Recently two young ladies travelled to that re- 
mote region to attend to their dying brother. The 
poor fellow did not long require their services, and 
immediately after his death the sisters prepared to 
return home. Before, however, they could get 
away, nearly the whole population of the town— 



Jonathan and his Continent, 



95 



headed by the Mayor and other high officials — were 
making matrimonial overtures to them. Feeling ran 
very high during five or six anxious days ; and the 
Mayor's chances, despite his mature years, ruled the 
betting at six to one. At the end of the week both 
young ladies had capitulated, and were duly en- 
gaged. The Mayor was, however, cut out by a 
handsome young miner. The wedding-day was 
fixed, and the mother of the young ladies was 
summoned upon the scene. Here troubles began. 
She duly arrived, and was hotly indignant with 
her daughters for the scant respect which they 
had manifested towards their brother's memory by 
such indecent haste to wed. The girls explained 
that they had literally been besieged, and had yielded 
to the overwhelming force of circumstances. As 
usual, explanations increased the offence ; and the 
mother vowed that neither of them should be mar- 
ried out there at all — that, in fact, the engagements 
were " off," and that they must be off too. The cup 
of felicity was thus rudely dashed from the lips of 
the two accepted men, and they made haste to tell 
their sorrows to the town. An indignation meeting 
was held, and the Mayor appointed a committee to 
wait upon the irate matron in order to ask her to 
reconsider her resolution. The Mayor, with rare 
magnanimity, considering the cruel blow his own 
hopes had just received, placed himself at the head 
of the deputation, and, in the name of patriotism, 
humbly implored the good lady to grant the petition, 
which he ardently urged. She, however, stood firmly 



96 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



on her parental rights, and declared she would not 
leave the town without her daughters. Then the 
genius of the Mayor shone forth like the sun. He 
blandly proposed a compromise. Why need she 
leave at all ? He drew her attention, of course in 
most delicate terms, to the fact that she was fair, 
plump, and fifty odd, and that similar language 
might be taken as descriptive of himself. There 
and then he offered her his hand and heart, and the 
young ladies a kind father and protector. 

That settled the matter, and three marriages 
took place with a great flourish of trumpets at 
Waggon Wheel. 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



97 



CHAPTER XV. 



Dress. — My Light- Grey Trousers create a Sensation in a Penn- 
sylvanian Town. — Women's Dress. — Style and Distinc- 
tion. — Bonnets fit to Frighten a Choctaw. — Dress at the 
Theatre. — Ball Toilettes. — Draw a Veil over the Past, 
Ladies. — The Frogs and the Oxen. — Interest and Capital. 
—Dogs with Gold- filled Teeth. — Vulgarity. 




N America, gentlemen's dress is plain, even 
severe : a high hat, black coat, dark 
trousers. Fancy cloth is little used, even 
in travelling. 



I remember well the sensation I created with a 
pair of light-grey trousers in a small Pennsylvanian 
town. Everyone seemed to look at me as if I had 
been a strange animal ; in the hotel the waitresses 
nudged one another, and scarcely repressed a giggle ; 
and the street-urchins followed me as if I had been 
a member of the Sioux tribe in national costume. 
The day after my arrival, one of the local papers 
announced that "a Frenchman had landed in the 
town the day before in white trousers, and that his 
popularity had been as prompt as decisive." 

With evening dress, the American gentleman 
wears no jewellery of any sort ; even the watch- 
chain is generally invisible. Simplicity, rather 
severity, in dress is a mark of distinction in a man, 
and the American gentleman is no exception to the 



9 8 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



rule. This simplicity in the dress of the men serves 
to throw up the brilliant attire of the women. 

American ladies dress very well, as a rule ; but 
there are a great number who cover themselves with 
furbelows and jewels, and, so long as each item is 
costly, trouble themselves little about the general 
effect. The tailor-made gown is worn in New York, 
as in Paris; but there is a proportion of women, 
even among the cultivated classes, who have the 
most sovereign contempt for all that is not silk, 
satin, or velvet. On board the Germanic we had 
two American ladies making the journey from Liver- 
pool to New York in silk dresses, one a moire ! They 
were known to belong to good society. 

Yes, in the large cities they dress well ; but they 
lack the simplicity of style which the Princess of 
Wales has so happily inculcated in the English- 
women who surround her. American women have 
plenty of style of their own, and have certainly also 
a great deal of distinction and grace ; but they 
always look dressed for conquest. It is well to be 
it, but not well to show it. They are apt to laugh 
at the toilette of Englishwomen, and model their own 
dress more on French lines. For my part, I think 
that nothing can surpass a fresh young English girl 
in a cotton dress and simple straw hat. 

The fashionable headgear, during my sojourn in 
the States, was a high, narrow construction, perched 
on the top of the head, and surmounted with feathers. 
At a certain distance it gave its wearer the look of 
an irate cockatoo. These monuments looked very 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



99 



heavy and difficult to maintain in equilibrium, and 
the ladies wearing them walked like grenadiers in 
busbies. There are French milliners in New York, 
I believe. Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes pretends that 
they deteriorate on American soil. I remember we 
got upon this subject during a pleasant chat about 
his early days in Paris, and he said, " By the time a 
French milliner has been six months in New York, 
she will make a bonnet to frighten a Choctaw 
Indian." 

At the theatre, women wear silk, which prevents 
one from hearing, and hats a foot high, which pre- 
vent one from seeing. 

An American was once asked what a play — which 
he might have seen — was like. " Very much like the 
back of ladies' bonnets," he answered. 

Boston ladies are an exception to the general rule. 
They are a great deal more English in style, eschew 
show and glitter, and wear diamonds very sparingly, 
even in the evening. 

But the most striking contrast may be seen by 
going straight from New York or Chicago to Canada. 
" Here we are in England once more," I thought, 
as I looked at a bevy of Canadian girls disporting 
themselves at an afternoon dance in Montreal. 
Half-a-dozen New York women would have had 
on the worth of all the fifty or sixty toilettes in 
the room. 

I fell to talking with a Canadian of the New York 
belles, their extravagant elegance, and their feverish 
love of society turmoil. 

8 



100 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



" Yes," said he, "they are very smart ; with them 
it is paint and feathers, and hooray ! all the time." 

I was told that the Marchioness of Lome, during 
her residence in Canada, had set the example of the 
greatest simplicity in dress. 

American ball-toilettes are ravishing. Here the 
diamonds are in place. I do not know any gayer, 
more intoxicating sight than an American ballroom. 
The display of luxury is on a gigantic scale. The 
walls are covered with flowers, the rooms artistically 
lighted, the dancing animated, and the true spirit of 
gaiety everywhere visible. The young women are 
ideal in beauty and brilliancy ; and if it were not for 
the atmosphere, which is hot enough to hatch silk- 
worms, you would pass the evening in an ecstacy of 
enjoyment. 

Low-necked dresses are much worn by American 
women, not only at balls and dinners, but at their 
afternoon receptions. It seems very odd to us Euro- 
peans to see a lady in a low-necked ball-dress, at four 
in the afternoon, receiving her friends, who are 
habited in ordinary visiting toilettes or tailor-made 
gowns. I should not have said " ordinary," as there 
is nothing ordinary in America, especially in the way 
of women's dress. In France, a hostess seeks to 
make show of simplicity in her reception toilettes, 
so as to be likely to eclipse no one in her own 
house. 

Low dresses are universal in America ; old ladies 
vieing with young in the display of neck and sboul- 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



101 



ders. It is true, the Americans are not peculiar in 
this. Many times, in a European ballroom, have I 
longed to exclaim : 

" Ladies, throw a veil over the past, I pray you." 

You may see some wonderful costumes in the 
streets of the large towns, disguises rather than 
dresses. The well-bred woman wears quiet colours 
on the street, but the other wears loud ones. I 
have seen dresses of an orange terra -cotta shade 
trimmed with huge bands of bright green velvet; 
costumes of violet plush worn with sky-blue hats, 
and other atrocities enough to make one's eyes cry 
for mercy. Violet and blue ! Oh, Oscar Wilde ! I 
thought you had been in America. 

The wives of men with middle -class incomes 
imitate the luxury of the millionaire's wife. I ex- 
pected to find it so : in a Democratic country the 
frogs all try to swell into oxen. They puff them- 
selves out until they burst ; or, rather, until their 
husbands burst. 

In France always, and in England when he will 
let her, a wife keeps an eye on her husband's in- 
terests. In America, she often lays hands on his 
capital. 

It must be said that vulgarity is not the mon- 
opoly of the middle-class woman in America. I 
extract the following from a Boston paper : 

V'The extreme of vulgarity has lately been at- 
tained in a gorgeous Soutnern hotel, where the wife 

8 * 



102 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



of a much-millionaired inventor holds state with a 
courier, another man-servant who dances attendance 
on a superannuated pug (whose teeth are said to be 
gold-fitted — the pug's teeth, remember, not the 
man's), and several maids. The courier manages 
the private palace-car of the family, which stands 
ready on the rails for use at any time and in any 
direction, and attends to the securing of rooms and 
steamer berths, as well as private dining privileges, 
when the family moves ; and it always moves en 
prince" 

All this is well enough if one can afford it ; but 
the innate vulgarity of the thing is shown in fan- 
tastic and absurd costuming of the children, includ- 
ing satin breeches for the boys, and the gorgeous 
getting-up of the maids, two of these menials being 
told off to attend constantly on each child. 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



103 



CHAPTER XVI. 



High Class Humour. — Mr. Chauncey Depew and General 
Horace Porter. — Corneille had no Humour. — A Woman 
"sans pere et sans proche. ,J — Mark Twain. 



What, for instance, could be more naive than the 
following remark I heard made by Mark Twain at a 
dinner in New York, one evening ? It was given, of 
course, in his inimitable drawl : 

" I was in the war too — for a fortnight — but I 
found I was on the strong side — so I retired — to 
make the fight even." 

There is no country where you hear so many good 
anecdotes, and no country where they are so well 



The Americans are delightful raconteurs ; they are 
past-masters in the art of making those light, graceful, 
witty little speeches, which give to their dinners such 
a unique charm. Then the humour is delicate, the 
wit of the brightest. Irony and elegance combine 
to make these discourses veritable little literary gems. 
The Americans have their heads full of anecdotes 
and reminiscences ; and it little matters in honour of 




UMOUR is an unassuming form of wit, 
by turns gay, naive, grim, and pathetic, 
that you will never come across in a 
vain, affected man. 



told. 



104 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



whom or of what the dinner is given, they are sure 
to be ready with anecdotes and reminiscences that 
are suitable to the occasion. 

The chronicler who draws upon his fertile brain 
for an interesting column for his paper every day 
may choose his own subject, and the task, difficult 
as it is, is not insurmountable ; but to be able, night 
after night, throughout a whole season, to make a 
witty speech on a given subject, not chosen by the 
speaker — this appears to me to be a wonderful feat. 
Nevertheless, it is done every year by a goodly num- 
ber of Americans, foremost among whom must be 
named Mr. Chauncey Depew and General Horace 
Porter. A banquet is not complete without the pre- 
sence of one of these delightful orators. 

Here is a specimen of General Porter's drollery — 
a portrait of an old typical Puritan, given at a "New 
England" dinner. 

"The old Puritan was not the most rollicking, 
the jolliest, the most playful of men. He at times 
amused himself sadly. He was given to a mild dis- 
regard of the conventionalities. He had suppressed 
bear-baiting, not, it is believed, because it gave pain 
to the bear, but because it gave pleasure to the 
audience. He found the Indians were the proprietors 
of the land, and he felt himself constrained to move 
against them with his gun, with a view to increasing 
the number of absentee landlords. He found Indians 
on one side and witches on the other. He was sur- 
rounded with troubles. He had to keep the Indians 
under fire and the witches over it. These were some 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



105 



of the things that reconciled that good man to sudden 
death. He never let the sun go down upon his 
wrath, but he, no doubt, often wished himself in that 
region near the Pole, where the sun does not go 
down for six months at a time, and gives wrath a 
fair chance to materialize. He was a thoughtful 
man. He spent his days inventing snow ploughs, 
and his evenings in sipping hot rum, and ruminating 
upon the probable strength of the future prohibition 
vote. Those were times when the wives remon- 
strated with their husbands regarding the unfortunate 
and disappointing results of too much drink, parti- 
cularly when it led the men to go out and shoot at 
Indians — and miss them. These men generally 
began drinking on account of a bite of a snake, and 
usually had to quit on account of attacks from 
the same reptiles." 

General Porter was good enough to introduce me 
to a New York audience on one occasion. 

"Ladies and gentlemen," began the General, 
without relaxing a muscle of his face, " I claim 
your indulgence on behalf of the speaker who is 
going to address you ; he has to speak in a lan- 
guage not his own, and, besides, he has not the 
resource of some of our countrymen, who, when 
their throats are tired, can speak through their 
noses." 

Mr. Depew has not a very high opinion of 
English sense of humour. 

This is an anecdote which he tells on the subject. 



io6 



Jonathan and his Continent, 



Mr. Depew and General Porter were present one 
evening at a dinner in London. The General had 
just terminated a speech, and Mr. Depew was called 
upon for one in his turn. 

" Gentlemen," said he, rising, " I am in a great 
state of embarrassment. I had prepared a speech 
which General Porter, to my great surprise, has just 
given you word for word. The General and I occu- 
pied the same cabin on board the boat which brought 
us to England, and I strongly suspect he must have 
stolen my notes." 

At this, it appears Mr. Depew heard an English- 
man say to his neighbour : 

" It is not the act of a gentleman." 

I have sometimes heard it said that no man is 
really great who has no sense of humour and cannot 
see through a joke. If this is a rule, the French form 
an exception. 

Corneille was one night looking on at a represen- 
tation of Racine's " Plaideurs." When he heard the 
fine verse from the Cid, parodied, and applied by 
Racine to an old lawyer : 

" Les rides sur son front gravaient tons scs exploits," 

it is said that Corneille exclaimed, in bourgeois style : 
" I don't think people ought to be allowed to 
steal your verses like that." 

American ladies run their husbands and fathers 
very close in the matter of wit. Their wit is apt to 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



107 



be a little more sarcastic, perhaps. They are not 
women for nothing. 

Some people were talking one day, in a New York 
drawing-room, of a lady who was making herself 
conspicuous in society, but of whom no one seemed 
to know the antecedents. 

" Oh, don't speak to me of her," said one lady as 
witty as uncharitable; "she is sanspere et sans proche." 

Since the death of Artemus Ward, Mr. Samuel 
Clemens, whose pseudonym of "Mark Twain" is 
a household word among every English-speaking 
people, has held unchallenged the position of first 
American humorist. 

Mark Twain is a man of about fifty years of age, 
thin, of medium height, and having well-marked 
features. His face, almost surly, is grave to severity, 
and rarely relaxes. 

The profile is Jewish. The eyes, small and keen, 
are almost entirely hidden by thick bushy eyebrows ; 
the well-shaped head is covered with thick bushy 
hair. A few yards off, Mark Twain's head looks like 
a crow's nest. The voice is drawling and has a 
decidedly nasal tone. When he slowly gets on his 
feet to speak, " tosses his frontlet to the sky," twists 
his head sidewise, frowning all the while, you little 
guess that in a few moments this man will convulse 
you with laughter. 

Truly nothing could be more droll than Mark 
Twain's manner of telling an anecdote. His jokes, 
which he seems to twirl out from under his ears, make 



io8 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



straight for your sides, tickle them unmercifully, and 
set you twisting on your chair. 

Mark Twain has amassed a considerable fortune, 
not — as he says himself — in writing his own books, 
but in publishing those of other people.* If there 
had been an international copyright between England 
and America, Mark Twain would have made a con- 
siderable fortune without going into business. 

This writer excels specially in accounts of travels. 
He will not give you deep thoughts or serious infor- 
mation. He is a charming guide, who makes you 
see the comic side of the life he describes, who will 
pilot you wherever there is something for his keen 
observation to glean. His caricatures are so per- 
fectly hit off that you recognise the original imme- 
diately. 

This man of merriment is, it appears, also a 
deep student of serious things. His father was long 
anxious to have him write a life of Christ, and if he 
has never complied with his parent's wish, it is only 
from a feeling that a volume of the kind, coming 
from his pen, might not be read with the reverence 
such a subject demands. 

Mark Twain inhabits a delightful cottage in 
Hartford, in the State of Connecticut. 

* Mark Twain is the chief partner in the firm of Charles Webster 
and Co., New York. 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



109 



CHAPTER XVII. 



Boisterous Humour and Horseplay Wit. — A Dinner at the 
Clover Club of Philadelphia. — Other " Gridiron" Clubs. 



of good fellows. 

The Americans are so good at taking a joke, so 
good-tempered that, even in public, they enjoy to 
banter each other and serve as butts for each other's 
sarcasms : it is on these occasions that American 
humour is allowed free play. There are even 
" Gridiron Clubs" — clubs where guests are invited 
only to be put on the grill. 

The most famous of these is the Clover Club at 
Philadelphia. OutsideParadise, there is no place where 
men are treated with so little regard to their rank. 
The members of the Clover Club are no respecters 
of persons. Nothing is sacred for them ; age or 
position count for naught in their assemblies. 

The club is composed of the principal journalists 
of Philadelphia. Once a year they ask to their table 
about fifty guests — people talked about ; the President 
of the United States himself has an invitation, if he 
cares to submit himself to the "grilling" process.* 




U M O U R only springs in simple, 
unaffected characters. You find it 
in the well-bred Scotch. It overflows 
in the American, who is the prince 



* Mr. Grover Cleveland has been through it. 



no 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



The banquet is princely; the menu most recherche. 

But let us take a peep at the proceedings. 

The president of the club, Mr. Handy, an 
American brimming over with wit, takes his place at 
the head of the table, and the feast begins. Choice 
dishes follow one another, and are washed down 
with choice wines. Conversation flows, and faces 
light up. An orchestra, placed in a neighbouring 
room, makes pleasant subdued music. The guests 
begin to think over the speeches they will soon be 
called upon to deliver — you recognise them by their 
white faces ; the Cloverites quietly sharpen their 
weapons for the fray. Presently comes the dessert. 
The President strikes two or three little blows upon 
the table, and rises. Now for it ! Now for the 
quart d'heure de Rabelais ! 

" Gentlemen," says the President," " I have the 
honour to propose the first toast of the evening. Let 
us fill our glasses, and drink to the honourable member 
of Congress on my right. I doubt not you will push 
your amiability and patience so far as to listen to his 
speech in respectful silence. He will be all the more 
proud to have an audience to-night, because, as we 
all know, when the honourable member gets up to 
make a speech at Washington, the benches begin 
to empty by magic. Gentlemen, give im a 
chance." 

The Congressman takes the joke merrily, and 
thus commences his speech : 

" Gentlemen — I mean Members — of the Clover 
Club." 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



in 



The members pocket the satire with a hearty 
laugh. 

Presently comes the turn of the second speaker. 
This one speaks in a scarcely audible voice. 

" Raise your voice," cry the members. 

" I am sorry you cannot hear. Come nearer." 

The cries of " Louder ! " continue. 

" If I speak low" replies the orator, " it is in 
order to get down to your level." 

This convulsed the assembly with laughter. 

I was aghast. 

Can it be possible, I thought, that they will stand 
that ? The joke may be new and funny, but surely 
it is being carried beyond the bounds. If such 
things went on in France, one would see duels going 
on in all the retired spots of the neighbourhood next 
morning. 

The health of a third guest is proposed in terms 
as grotesque as the preceding ones. This gentleman 
is an American, whose daughter is the wife of a 
member of the English aristocracy. By the manner 
in which he rises and begins to speak, it is easy to 
see that he is an old hand at this kind of tournament. 
He begins : 

" Gentlemen, when I was present at your dinner 
last year " 

" Last year ! " cries a Cloverite ; " how did you 
get invited again this year, pray ? " 

" Oh, you know you can't do without me. You 
must have a few respectable people at your table. I 
mix with the aristocracy, gentlemen ; but, as you 



112 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



see, I am not at all proud : I come and sit at 
meat with you. It is not that I have the least 
esteem for you, but I will not have folks say that, 
because I move in the society of dukes, marquises, 
earls " 

" Shut up ! what do we care for your dukes ? " 

" Bah ! of course there is no blue blood in 
you ; you can't appreciate the honour I am doing 
you." 

The ironical laughter is deafening, but the speaker 
will not be baffled of his say. 

" Before I came here, I made up my mind " 

"Your what ? " 
" My mind." 
"Ha, ha!" 

Here the Cloverites stamp and shout, but the 
speaker braves out the storm. As a peroration, this 
is what he offers to his hosts : 

" Gentlemen, I had prepared a speech, something 
refined, which you could scarcely be supposed to 

appreciate. I will not cast my pearls to (' All 

right, all right.') I will sit down. Perhaps next 
year I may find you a little more civilised." 

" Next year ! No danger of your being asked, 
my fine fellow ! " 

The President rises once more. 

My turn has come. 

Scarcely have I said the word " Gentlemen," 
when a volley of shouts and whistlings greets me. 
I see that I am not going to be spared. 
" Excuse me," I continued ; " perhaps I had 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



"3 



better explain to you why I accepted your invitation. 
Since I am in America, I mean to study the customs 
and manners of the people. With this object in 
view, it would not do for me to confine myself to 
good society, and I have determined to make a 
beginning this evening " 

"That's right," whispers my neighbour; "con- 
tinue in that strain, and you will do." 

For hours the speechifying goes on, mixed with 
music, recitations, songs, and anecdotes. 

At two in the morning hosts and guests separate, 
declaring that they have had a real " good time." 

The Clover Club is a first-rate leveller. 

Any man, suffering from over-cultivated self- 
esteem, can be supplied by this club with wholesome 
physic. 

There exist many other clubs of this kind, where 
the hospitality consists of getting amusement at the 
guests' expense. The idea is droll and naive. The 
Gridiron Club at Washington was founded on the 
same lines as the Clover Club in Philadelphia. 
During the evening on which I was present at the 
monthly dinner of the Gridiron, a member of the 
Chinese Embassy replied in Chinese to the toast 
that was proposed in his honour. I replied in French. 
It was a satisfaction to read in the Washington 
papers, next morning, that the Chinese and French 
speeches had been greatly appreciated by the club 
members. 

Really ? A lions done ! 



H4 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



Such fun as goes on at these " Gridiron " Clubs 
may savour a trifle of horseplay to the stranger ; but 
though I do not know the origin of these tourneys, 
I imagine they arose from a genuine American enjoy- 
ment of quick repartee. At these meetings, eloquence 
prepared beforehand would be of little use: the 
essential equipment for the guest is a ready wit and 
a bold tongue. 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



CHAPTER XVIII. 



Western and Eastern Wit. — Two Anecdotes in the way of 



3r* THINK the two following anecdotes illustrate 
uy well the preposterousness of Western wit 
\ and the delicacy of the Eastern article. 
^ To some Americans, who may read me, 
these two stories may be "chestnuts." To such I 
apologise. 

A drunkard's relatives thought to frighten him 
into better ways. During a fit of intoxication he 
was laid in a coffin, and a friend remained near at 
hand, waiting until the drunken stupor should pass 



By-and-bye, the occupant of the coffin awakes, 
sits up, and, rubbing his eyes, 

" Where am I ? " he inquires. 

" You are dead," replies his friend, in a sepul- 
chral kind of voice. 

" Dear me ! How long have I been dead ? " 

"Three days." 

" And are you dead too ? " 

"Yes." 

" And how long have you been dead ? " 
" Three weeks." 

" Dear me ! . . . then you have been dead 



Illustration. 



off. 



n6 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



longer than I have. . . . tell me where I can get 
a drink." 

Now a Bostonian anecdote. 

Philadelphia, whether justly or not, has the 
reputation of being very dead-and-alive, and many 
are the jokes on its dullness. This is one, which 
illustrates well the keenness and delicacy of Eastern 
wit. 

A Bostonian was doing the honours of his native 
city to a friend from Philadelphia. Having shown 
him all the points of interest in the place, he asked 
if he did not think Boston a fine city. 

" Yes, it is very nice," said the Pennsylvania 
man ; " but I don't think it is so well laid out as 
Philadelphia." 

"No," rejoined the Bostonian, " but it will be, 
when it is as dead as Philadelphia." 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



uy 



CHAPTER XIX. 

Journalism. — Prodigious Enterprises. — Startling Headlines. — 
"Jerked to Jesus.''' — "Mrs. Carter finds Fault with 
her Husband's Kisses." — Jacob's Ladder. — Sensational 
News. — How a Journalist became known. — Gossip. — 
The Murderer and the Reporters. — Detective Journalists. — 
"The Devil Dodged." — Ten Minutes' Stoppage in 
Purgatory. — French, English, and American Journalists. 
— A Visit to the Great Newspaper Offices. — Sunday 
Papers. — Country Papers. — Wonderful Eye-ticklers. — 
Polemics. — " Pulitzer and Dana." — Comic and Society 
Papers. — The " Detroit Free Press " and the " Omaha 
World. ' ' — A merican Reviews. 

- Y his discovery of America, Christopher 
Columbus has furnished the Old World 




with an inexhaustible source of amusing 
novelties. You pass from the curious to 
the marvellous, from the marvellous to the incredible, 
from the incredible to the impossible realised. 

But it is to American journalism that the palm 
must be awarded. 

I shall speak later on of the Sunday papers — those 
phenomenal productions that fairly take your breath 
away. 

Take the daily papers : eight, ten, sometimes 
twelve pages, each consisting of eight or nine columns 
of fine print, the whole for a penny or threehalf- 
pence. So much for the quantity. 

9 * 



n8 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



The first thing that attracts your attention is the 
titles of the articles. The smallest bit of news can- 
not escape your notice, thanks to these wonderful 
head-lines. It requires a special genius for the work, 
to be able to hit upon such eye-ticklers. 

Here are a few that I noted down in New York, 
Chicago, and other large towns : — 

The death of Mrs. Garfield, mother of the late 
President, was announced with the heading : 

Death of Grandma Garfield, 

The marriage of M. Maurice Bernhardt : 

Sarah's boy leads his bride to the altar. 

The execution of a criminal was announced by a 
Chicago paper under the heading : 

Jerked to Jesus. 

The reports of two divorce cases at Chicago were 
entitled respectively : 
Tired of William. 

Mrs. Carter finds fault with her husband's kissing. 

An article on Prince Bismarck was headed in 
large letters : Bismarck withdraws. Just under- 
neath, in very small print, was: His resignation as 
Chancellor of the German Empire. 

The marriage of young Earl Cairns, who had 
been betrothed several times, was announced to the 
American ladies thus : 

Garmoyle caught at last. 

Mr. Arthur Balfour, having refused to reply to 
some attacks of the Irish Nationalists, a prominent 
New York paper thus announced the fact : 

Balfour doesn't care a 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



119 



During his late visit to America, Mr. Joseph 
Chamberlain was invited by the members of a New 
York club to a dinner given in his honour. At the 
eleventh hour the right honourable gentleman, being 
detained in Washington on State business, was 
obliged to send and excuse himself. Next day, I 
read in the New York Herald : 

One dinner less for Joe. 

While I was in the United States, the papers 
were constantly speaking of a financier named Jacob 
Sharp. Accused of fraudulent dealings, this gentle- 
man had been arrested, but subsequently released, 
untried. The press indulged in much comment on 
the matter, and such remarks as : "All mortals have 
their trials except financiers." 

One morning the newspapers were obliged to 
desist from their attacks : poor Jacob had passed 
away from earth. 

The same day, I met the editor of one of the 
large daily papers. 

" Well," said I, " here is a fine occasion for a 
grand head-line to-morrow ; you are not going to let 
it slip, I suppose." 

" What do you mean ? " 

"How can you ask ? Why, Jacob gone up the 
ladder ! of course." 

" Splendid ! " he exclaimed. 

" Pends-toi, my dear editor, thou didst not find 
that one." 

" I must have it. How much will you take for 
it?" 



120 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



" I '11 make you a present of it," said I, 
Next morning, the death of the financier was told 
in two columns, headed : 
Jacob gone up the ladder. 

If ever I wanted to apply for a journalistic post 
in America, this would be my most weighty recom- 
mendation in the eyes of my future chief. 

I did not know what lively reading was until I 
saw an American newspaper. 

American journalism is, above all, a sensational 
journalism. If the facts reported are exact, so 
much the better for the paper ; if not, so much the 
worse for the facts. Beyond the date, few state- 
ments are reliable. But the papers are always 
lively reading. Picture to yourself a country where 
the papers are all Pall Mall Gazettes, with this differ- 
ence, that the articles, instead of being always by 
" One who knows," are oftener by " One who 
doesn't." 

To succeed as a journalist in America, it is not 
necessary to be a man of letters, to be able to write 
leading articles a la John Lemoinne; the only quali- 
fication necessary is to be able to amuse and interest 
the reader; this must be done at any cost; all styles 
are admissible except the heavy. 

The accounts of trials in the police courts or at 
the courts of assize eclipse the novels of M. du 
Boisgobey. I, who never read tribunal reports in 
the English newspapers, was more than once sur- 
prised in America to find myself deeply interested in 



Jonathan and his Continent, 



121 



the account of a trial for murder, following all the 
details of the case and unwilling to miss a word. 
Alternately moved and horrified, I would read to the 
end, then, passing my hand across my forehead, I 
would say to myself: "How silly; it is mostly 
fiction, after all ! " 

The American journalist must be spicy, lively, 
bright. He must know how to, not report, but 
relate an accident, a trial, a conflagration, and, at a 
push, make up an article of one or two columns in 
length upon the most insignificant incident. He 
must be interesting, readable, as the English call it 
with reason. His eyes and ears must be always 
open, every sense on the alert; for, before all and * 
above all, he must keep ahead in this race for news ; 
if he should once let himself be outdone by a 
confrere, his reputation would be blasted. 

But you will perhaps exclaim: "What is the 
poor fellow to do when there is no news ? " What is 
he to do ? And his imagination, is it given him for 
no purpose ? If he have no imagination, he had 
better give up the idea of being a journalist in 
America, as he will soon find out. 

This is how one American reporter made a 
reputation at a bound. The Chicago people are 
still proud to tell the story. 

The young fellow was taking a walk one evening 
in a retired part of the town, on the look-out for 
what adventure history does not say. All at once, a 
human form, lying motionless on the ground, 
attracted the sight of our hero. He drew near to it, 



122 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



stooped down, and found it to be a corpse. His 
first impulse was to immediately seek a policeman 
and tell him of the discovery. 

But a second idea came ; it was more practical, 
and he adopted it. This was it : 

His paper comes out at two in the afternoon, so 
that by running straight to the police station he 
would be making the matter public, and furnishing 
his brother reporters with a column or two for their 
morning papers. It is a catch, this corpse, and not 
to be lightly given away. What to do ? Simply 
this. Our journalist drags the body into an empty 
building near at hand, and carefully hides it. At 
eleven next morning, he discovers it by chance, goes 
as fast as possible to make his declaration to the 
police, and then hastens away to the office of his 
newspaper with two columns of description written 
overnight. At two o'clock, the paper announces 
" Mysterious murder in Chicago : discovery of the 
victim by one of our reporters ! " 

The morning papers were outdone; the evening 
ones nowhere. 

This is the kind of talent you must have in order 
to stand a chance of making your way in American 
journalism. 

Crimes, divorces, elopements, mesalliances, gossip 
of all kinds, furnish the papers with three-quarters 
of their contents. A mysterious affair, skilfully 
handled, will make the fortune of a paper. 

For several weeks, during the months of February 
and March, the American papers were talking about 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



123 



a young lady of good family in Washington, who, it 
appeared, had become engaged to a young Indian 
named Chaska, a tawny brave of the Sioux tribe. 
There were descriptions of the wild man; descrip. 
tions of the festivities which were to be held in his 
honour at the camp of the great chief, Swift Bird; 
descriptions of the gorgeous ornaments with which 
the members of the tribe would be adorned — nothing 
was wanting : day after day fresh details were added. 
Then the despair of the young lady's family was 
pictured. The threats of an indignant father, the 
tears of a distressed mother, nothing, it seemed, 
could touch the heart of the fair one but the piercing 
eyes of Chaska. 

At last the marriage takes place, not only in 
broad day, but in church. It is not Swift Bird who 
blesses the young couple ; it is the parish clergyman. 
Romance gives place to verity ; and, without the 
slightest sign of being disconcerted, the papers 
announce (in a few lines only this time) that the 
young lady has married a clerk in the Indian A ffairs 
Office. 

All this is as nothing. It is when there is a criminal 
case to handle that American journalism becomes 
simply sublime. 

The criminal is no sooner arrested than the 
reporters hurry to his cell, and get him to undergo 
the curious operation now known throughout the 
world as interviewing. He is treated with all the 
consideration due to a man in his position. "Mr. 



124 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



So and So, of the Earthquake, presents his compli- 
ments to Mr. Blank, charged with murder, and 
requests the favour of a few minutes' conversation." 
To be accused of an important crime gives a man a 
certain standing in America. The more atrocious 
the crime, the more interesting the accused ; and 
columns upon columns of print supply the public 
with his slightest sayings and doings. He is the 
hero of the day. From the prison, the reporters go 
to hunt up the witnesses, whom they also interview 
in their turn. Regular examinations, these inter- 
views ! 

If there is any love story mixed in with the 
affair, if there are a few piquant details, you may 
easily imagine that the public gets the worth of its 
penny. 

The American is gallant, and when the victim is 
of the feminine gender, I can assure you the accused 
generally gets a pretty drubbing in the press. 

American journalism carries the spirit of enter- 
prise still further. Not content with trying criminals, 
it hunts them out and brings them to justice. 
Policeman, magistrate, public prosecutor, judge — the 
journalist is all these. 

I know of several American newspapers having 
quite a staff of detectives — yes, detectives. If a 
criminal escapes justice, or an affair remains sur- 
rounded by mystery, these new-fashioned journalists 
are let loose every morning on a search for the 
criminal, or to try and pick up threads of information 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



125 



that may lead to the clearing up of the mystery. 
These detectives are employed, not only in cases of 
crime, but work just as hard over a divorce or an 
elopement : it is journalism turned private detective 
agency. A newspaper that can boast of having 
brought a criminal to justice, discovered the hiding- 
place of an unfaithful wife, or run a ravisher to 
earth, is rewarded by an increased sale forthwith. 

The slightest thing that can make the paper 
attractive is seized upon with avidity. The headings, 
which I have spoken of, are called into requisition on 
all occasions, and there is nothing, down to the mere 
announcements, that will not suggest to a wide- 
awake editor one of these wonderful eye-ticklers. 
Thus the Saturday list of preachers for the morrow 
is headed in the New York Herald : 

Salvation for all ; or Guiding Sinners Heavenwards, 
or Dodging the Devil. 

In one paper, you will see the list of births, 
marriages, and deaths, headed respectively : The 
Cradle, the Altar, and the Tomb; in another, more 
facetious : Hatches, Matches, and Dispatches. 

In a society paper, much given to gossip, I 
noticed the news of the fashionable world distributed 
under the following titles : 

Cradle (list of births) ; 

Flirtations (list of young people suspected of a 
tender passion for each other) ; 

Engagements (promises of marriage) ; 
Tiffs (sic) ; 
Ruptures ; 



126 



Jonathan and his Continent, 



Marriages ; 

Divorces and Separations ; 
Deaths, 

It was the whole comedy of life. 

What a pity the American papers cannot have 
reporters in the other world to note the entries into 
Paradise, and descents into Hell ! 

Ten minutes' stoppage in Purgatory would be very 
crisp and effective. 

Compared with the French and English papers, 
the American dailies have neither the literary value 
of the former nor the authority of the latter in the 
matter of political foreign news. 

The French newspapers are most of them literary 
productions of incontestable worth ; but, with the 
exception of one or two leading articles, and the 
literary, musical, and dramatic criticisms, nothing 
very serious in the way of information is to be found 
in them. The foreign intelligence is of the most 
meagre, and usually consists of a few lines furnished 
by Uagence Havas : " The Emperor of Germany is a 
little better," or "Queen Victoria has returned to 
Windsor from Scotland," etc. 

Mr. George Augustus Sala once said very wittily 
that the French papers bear the date of to-morrow 
and the news of yesterday. The satire is a little 
severe, but it is not unmerited. He might, however, 
have taken that opportunity for reminding his 
numerous readers that, if the Parisian papers are 
inferior to the London ones in the matter of news, 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



127 



they are greatly their superiors in the matter of 
articles. It is true we have no longer among our 
journalists Roqueplan, Karr, Mery, Janin, Prevost- 
Paradol, Girardin, Taine, About ; but we have still 
John Lemoinne, Weiss, Sarcey, Rochefort, Wolff, 
Lockroy, Vacquerie, Scholl, Fouquier, Bergerat, and 
many others, who offer to the public every morning 
articles stamped with genius, or, at the least, spark- 
ling with wit ; yes, we have still a goodly group of 
such. 

For the intelligent, serious man, the English 
daily papers have only the attraction of the correct- 
ness of their correspondence, home and foreign. It 
consists of facts in all their aridity, but still facts. 
As for the articles, few persons, I fancy, read those 
productions written, with few exceptions, in the dry, 
thready, pedagogic style much affected by lower- 
form schoolboys, and often deserving the favourite 
comment of the late M. Lemaire, professor at the 
Lycee Charlemagne: " Lourd, pdteux, delay e dans le 
vide." 

An American newspaper is a conglomeration of 
news, political, literary, artistic, scientific, and 
fashionable, of reports of trials, of amusing anec- 
dotes, gossip of all kinds, interviews, jokes, scandal; 
the whole written in a style which sometimes shocks 
the man of taste, but which often interests, and 
always amuses. 

A literary celebrity of Boston said to me one 
day : " I am ashamed of our American press ; we 
have only two papers in the country that I do not 



128 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



blush for, and those are the Boston Post, and the 
Evening Post of New York. 

I must say that, if you want to hear America and 
everything American severely criticised, you have 
only to go to Boston. There you will hear Boston 
and England praised, and America picked to pieces. 

" Are you an American ? " I once asked of a 
gentleman I met in New York. 

" Well," he said after some hesitation, " I'm from 
Boston." 

Fancy ! being born in Boston, and obliged to be 
an American ! That 's hard. 

The American public is not composed merely of 
the refined scciety of Boston and New York, and 
the press is obliged to cater to the public taste. 
When the public taste is improved, the newspapers 
will reform, and everything leads to the belief that 
the amelioration will not be long coming. 

As for political news sent over from Europe, one 
needs to allow a little margin on what one reads in 
the American papers ; but it is impossible not to 
praise the activity which animates the press. 

Thus, for instance, I was in New York on the 
day that M. Victorien Sardou brought out La Tosca 
at the Porte St. Martin. The first representation 
took place on a Saturday. The next morning, my 
newspaper gave me a most complete analytical 
description of the performance in two columns. 
That is to say, the Americans were able to read the 
details of Sarah Bernhardt's latest triumph earlier 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



129 



than the inhabitants of Lyons or Marseilles, who 
had to wait for the Paris papers. 

Thanks to their journalism, the Americans have 
at least an idea of what is going on in Europe : they 
know our new plays, they read our new books, they 
are kept informed of every event, just as if they 
were neighbours. And how is it possible, I repeat, 
not to say a good word for a journalism which 
knows how to excite, as well as satisfy, the curiosity 
of a great people ? 

Go and ask the first hundred Frenchmen you 
meet in the streets of Paris what is the name of the 
President of the United States, you will find ninety- 
nine of them unable to tell you. The Frenchman is 
exclusive to the point of stupidity, and that which is 
not French possesses no interest for him. Enveloped 
in this exclusiveness, he knows nothing: in the 
matter of foreign questions, he is the most ignorant 
being in the world ; and French journalism, obliged 
to study his tastes, serves him with nothing but 
French dishes. 

You must visit the offices of the great New York 
papers in the evening, if you would get an idea of 
these colossal enterprises. There you see about fifty 
reporters with their news all ready for print in their 
hands. Each one in turn passes before the heads of 
the various departments, political, literary, dramatic, 
etc. 

" What have you ? " asks an editor of the first 
reporter who presents himself. 

"An interview with Sarah Bernhardt." 



130 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



" Very good. Half a column. And what have 
you ? " he says, turning to the second. 

"A report of John Smith, the banker's case." 

" Right. One column. And you ? " 

" I have an account of the President's forthcoming 
journey to the South." 

When all the reporters have passed, they go to 
another room to reduce their articles to the required 
length. Over six hundred correspondents, scattered 
all over the globe, send in their telegrams* by 
special wire for the most part ; and the conversation, 
which we have just overheard in the office, begins 
again, this time with Washington, Boston, Phila- 
delphia, Chicago, San Francisco, Paris, London, 
Berlin, &c. 

" What have you for us this evening ? " says the 
editor to his correspondent in Berlin. 

" Bismarck threatens to send in his resignation." 
" One column." 

" Boulanger has just received an ovation at 
Lille. A riot is feared in Paris," wires the Paris 
correspondent. 

" Capital ! send two columns." 

"A scandal in Rome. The Marchioness of N. 
has run away with her husband's secretary." 

" Good. Where are they gone ? " 

" No one knows." 

" No matter. Send a good stirring column all 
the same." 

* I have seen, in American papers, European telegrams of 2,000 and 
even 3,000 words — at sixpence a word. 



Jonathan and his Continent, 131 



" What's-his-name, the financier, has made off," 
ticks the wire from Chicago. 

" A column. Send report, and start on scent of 
the fugitive." 

When the telegraph has ceased ticking, and the 
crowd of reporters have departed, the chief editor, 
like a ship's captain, the last to leave the deck, works 
on. He reads over everything — yes, everything; 
sifts, corrects, cuts down, adds to, puts all in order, 
and towards two o'clock in the morning gives the 
order to print, and goes home. 

But once more all this is nothing. It is in the 
Sunday's issue that you have the crowning feat of 
journalistic enterprise : thirty or thirty-two pages of 
telegrams, articles, essays on politics, the drama, 
literature, pictures, the fashions, anecdotes, bons 
mots, interviews, stories for children, poetry, bio- 
graphies, chats on science, the whole illustrated with 
portraits, sketches of interesting places mentioned in 
the text, caricatures, etc. All this for the sum of 
three halfpence. 

And this is not all. How send these mammoth 
newspapers throughout the different States of the 
Union? How? Oh, that is very simple. The 
New York World and the New York Herald have 
special trains. Tell me if it is not enough to take 
one's breath away. But, you will ask, how can a 
paper publish such a number for three halfpence? 
From thirty to forty columns of advertisements, 
such is the solution of the mystery. 



10 



132 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



I admire several large papers, notably the New 
York Herald, which put their immense publicity at 
the disposition of lean purses. Persons in want of 
servants, for example, have to pay 25 cents a line for 
advertising ; but male servants in search of a situa- 
tion only pay 10 cents, a line, and women 5 cents. 
This is philanthropy of the right sort, chivalrous 
philanthropy. 

In New York, the large daily papers which you 
see in the hands of everyone are : the Tribune, the 
Times, the Herald, the World, the Sun, and the 
Star. 

The first two are those most read by the cultivated 
classes ; the most popular are the two following. 

Five or six important newspapers appear in the 
afternoon : the Post (the most respectable and re- 
spected of all American organs) ; the Commercial 
A dvertiser, an excellent literary, political, and financial 
publication ; the Mail and Express ; the Telegram, the 
Sun, and the World. 

Boston, Philadelphia, and Chicago possess news- 
papers in no way second in importance to those of 
New York. Of such are the Globe, the Post, the 
Advertiser, the Herald, the Transcript, and the Journal, 
of Boston ; the Ledger and the Press, of Philadelphia ; 
the Tribune, the Herald, the Inter-Ocean, and the 
Journal, of Chicago. Washington, St. Louis, San 
Francisco, Cincinnati, Pittsburg, and many other 
towns, have also newspapers of the first importance. 

Every little town of a thousand to fifteen hundred 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



133 



inhabitants has its two newspapers, one democratic, 
the other republican. For lively reading, take up 
these papers during the electoral struggle which 
terminates with the installation of a new President 
at the White House. The names of some of them 
will suffice to give you an idea of the style of the 
contents : very favourite names are the Paralyser, the 
Rustler, the Cyclone, the Prairie Dog, the Bazoo, the 
Lucifer, the Bundle of Sticks, the Thunderer, the 
Earthquake. I saw and read a copy of the sheet 
which rejoiced in the name of Bundle of Sticks. The 
first article contained advice to a certain Joseph 
M tiller, who, instead of working, had taken up street 
preaching and house-to-house prayer. " We give 
Joseph Mtiller a fortnight to find some honourable 
employment. If at the end of that time he is still 
leading an idle life, we will find an exalted position 
for him." The joke makes one shudder, when one 
thinks that, if Joseph should turn a deaf ear to the 
warning, he is quite sure to be hung by his townsmen 
to the highest branch of some tree in the town. 

Manners will tone down in the West, as they 
have in the East, and in twenty years the Thunderer 
and the Avalanche will give place to the Times and 
the Tribune. 

The characteristic of new societies is freedom of 
speech as well as of action. I read in some Thunderer 
the following lines about the editor of the Lightning, 
the other newspaper of the town : " We wish to use 
moderation, and to keep within the limits of good 
breeding. We will only go so far as to say that 

10 * 



134 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



personally he is a sneak ; and that as a journalist he 
is a liar and a scoundrel." The Lightning replies in 
the same strain, and the public gets amusement for the 
moderate sum of one halfpenny. 

Many of these papers of Kentucky, Texas, and 
other Western States may be paid for in kind. I 
extract the following from the Herald, of Hazel 
Green (Kentucky) : — 

"NO EXCUSE FOR IGNORANCE. 

How you may get the 'Herald' for a year without money. 

Bring us : — 

Twenty pounds of pork ; or 
Ten pounds of pork sausage ; or 
Two bushels of sound potatoes ; or 
Five bushels of sound turnips : or 
Ten good chickens ; or 
One bushel of good onions. 

For half the quantity, we will send the paper half the 
timer 

And so the whole population of Hazel Green has 
the newspaper put within its reach. 

The Thunderer and the Lightning are not the only 
papers that indulge in violent polemics, in which 
insulting personalities take the place of arguments. 

During the whole time I was in America, Mr. 
Pulitzer, proprietor and manager of the World, 
and Mr. Dana, editor of the Sun, one of the most 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



135 



accomplished American journalists, were day after 
day calling each other such names as " robber, liar, 
mortgaged, dirty Jew." I see by papers that my 
New York friends kindly send me from time to time, 
that these gentlemen have not yet exhausted their 
Billingsgate vocabulary. 

Do not draw hasty conclusions from this. I do 
not know Mr. Pulitzer personally, but I have the 
pleasure of knowing Colonel Cockerill, chief editor 
of the World, and Mr. Charles Dana, of the Sun. 
In private life they are perfect gentlemen, and men 
of great talent. In public life they are in the swim 
— they go with the tide. As a study of English, 
the polemic of the World and the Sun was most 
interesting. 

The American press was divided into two camps : 
the partisans of Pulitzer and the partisans of Dana. 
Whenever the combatants were driven up for want 
of fresh epithets of the requisite strength, their 
supporters suggested some to them. Here are some 
congratulations, addressed to Mr. Dana, which I 
read in the St. Louis Globe : 

" It was from beginning to end the Suns stiletto 
against the World's meat-axe, and, as is always the 
case, the meat-axe came out second best. The 
literature of invective contains nothing finer than 
some of the Sun's attacks on the World, and the 
literature of the gutter contains nothing more feeble 
than the World's defence. The Sun dealt out prussic 
acid by the drop, and the World replied with rough- 
on-rats by the pound. The flatulent anger of Pulitzer 



136 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



was completely overwhelmed by the concentrated 
venom of Dana." 

A confrere could scarcely be more amiable, and I 
hope Mr. Dana appreciated the compliments. 

America, New York especially, has some capital 
comic papers. 

By that, I mean more comic than the rest. 

Similar to the Paris Charivari and to Punch, 
Puck and Judge have always skits on the questions 
of the day, touched off with the freedom which one 
would expect in free America. The manners of the 
people are criticised with wit and good taste. The 
little illustrations are charming, but two or three 
huge coloured pictures done in the crudest style dis- 
figure each of these papers. Several other publica- 
tions, such as Life, written in a light, sparkling style, 
and ornamented with little fine, tasteful illustrations, 
concern themselves with the sayings and doings of. 
higher American society, Little stories, anecdotes, 
bons mots, material for a merry hour. Admirable are 
these papers, which know how to be comic, witty, 
and bright, without being objectionable, or unfit to 
put into the hands of a girl in her teens. 

These papers are not only amusing to the 
stranger, they are instructive. The funny stories, 
the naive jokes, as descriptive as they are diverting, 
give a truer idea of American character and manners 
than many a ponderous volume. 

As in France and England, the comic papers in 
America are the only ones which give proof of a little 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



137 



wisdom or common sense when the horizon is 
darkened, and home and foreign political questions 
are disturbing the peace of the country. 

If I were asked to name the most amusing 
papers published in the United States, I should not 
hesitate to award the palm to the Detroit Free Press 
and the Omaha World; in these two, American 
humour reveals itself in all its spontaneous gaiety, 
and their drolleries are reproduced from New York 
to San Francisco, from Montreal to New Orleans. 

Space fails me here to do justice to the literary, 
dramatic, and artistic journals. Among the first, 
however, mention must be made of the Critic. Its 
analyses are amiable and discreetly erudite. Its 
criticisms are always fair, and never crabbed. 

I cannot close this chapter without speaking of 
the American Reviews ; they have attained a perfec- 
tion which is the highest utterance of journalism, as 
understood by the educated world. But they are for 
the most part so well known in England that I need 
not enlarge upon the merit and charms of such 
publications as the North American Review, the 
A tlantic Monthly, the Forum, the Century, the Harper, 
Scribner, Lippincott, and that treasure of English- 
reading children all over the world, the incomparable 
St. Nicholas. Besides all these, there are the 



138 



Jonathan and his Continent, 



Cosmopolitan , the America, the American Magazine, 
and numbers of others. 

Alas, it would need a score of volumes to do 
anything like justice to that which one can see in 
America. Unhappily, it would take a score of years 
to see it in. And so I alight but a moment at each 
turning, happy if, by trying to show the reader a 
little of everything, I succeed in showing him some- 
thing. 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



139 



CHAPTER XX. 

Reporting. — For the American Reporter Nothing is Sacred. — 
Demolition of the Wall of Private Life.— Does your 
Husband Snore ? — St. Anthony and the Reporters. — / am 
Interviewed. — My Manager drops Asleep over it. — The 
Interview in Print. — The President of the United States 
and the Reporters. — " / am the Interviewer ." 

' ^-y'OURNALISM has killed literature, and 
2 reporting is killing journalism. It is the 

fJT[ last gasp of the dying literature of an 
epoch ; it is the man of letters replaced 
by the concierge." So exclaims M. Albert Millaud 
in one of his clever articles in the Figaro. 

In America, reporting has simply overrun, swal- 
lowed up, journalism. It is a demolition of the wall 
of private life ; the substitution of gossip for chroni- 
cle, of chatter for criticism. 

For the interviewer, nothing is sacred. Audacity 
is his stock-in-trade : the most private details of your 
daily life are at his mercy ; and unless you blow his 
brains out — which is not lawful in New York State — 
you have no means of getting rid of him. 

Do not believe you have got over the difficulty 
by having him told that you are not at home. He 
will return to the charge ten, twenty times ; he will 
stand sentinel at your door, sleep on the mat outside 
your hotel bedroom, so as to pounce on you as soon 



140 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



as you show your face in the morning. He is patient ; 
and if any indisposition should oblige you to keep 
your room, he will wait till you are well again, and 
will have his meals brought to him in the corridor. 
Should you succeed in escaping the hunter, rather 
than return to the newspaper-office empty-handed 
from the chase, he will find your wife, and ask her if 
you snore, whether you are an early riser, whether 
you are the more amiable after dinner or before, 
what you eat at breakfast, what is your favourite 
colour in trousers, and what size boots you take. 
He will ask her when you were married, how long 
your honeymoon lasted, if you have children, and 
whether they have cut their teeth. With these 
materials he will make up a column. 

There is no question too indiscreet for these 
enterprising inquisitors : they would have inter- 
viewed St. Anthony in his hut. 

Do not shout victory, either, because you have 
succeeded in getting rid of the interviewer without 
replying to his questions. It is in such cases that 
the American journalist reveals himself in all his 
glory. To your stupefaction, the newspapers next 
day will have an account of the conversation which 
you might have had with their reporters. 

If my advice be worth giving, the best thing you 
can do, when the interviewer presents himself, and 
says, " I am a reporter, sir, and I have come to ask 
you for a few moments' chat," is to say to him : 

" Mad to see you. Pray be seated." 

After all, interviewing is an operation that one 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



141 



survives ; and, to be just, I must say that American 
reporters in general are courteous, obliging, and — 
which is simply astounding when one considers that 
they rarely take notes — exact in their accounts of 
interviews. 

The courage, too, with which the interviewer 
braves rebuffs, and the philosophy with which he 
pockets abuse, are nothing short of admirable. For 
my part, I never could find a cross word to say to 
these intruders ; and I had my reward in reading in 
the papers that it was a pleasure to interview me, 
because I submitted to the operation with such 
good grace. 

On the nth of November, 1887, at 9 a.m., the 
Germanic, after a terribly rough passage of nine days, 
entered the magnificent harbour of New York. The 
sun had risen resplendent in a cloudless blue sky. 
We had just passed Bartholdi's statue of " Liberty," 
and it seemed as if France were not very far off. It 
was a sweet sensation, and instinctively I had raised 
my hat. All at once the Germanic stopped. A little 
steam-tug drew up alongside, and there stepped on 
board one or two custom-house officers, followed by 
several other persons. 

" Look out ! " cried one of my fellow-passengers, 
seeing that I appeared to be unconscious of danger. 

"What is the matter? " I asked, 

" The interviewers ! " 

"Nonsense! Not here, surely!" I exclaimed. 
No sooner were the words out of my mouth than 



142 Jonathan and his Continent. 



two young men handed me their cards, with the 
announcement that they were journalists. 

" We have come to present our respects to you," 
they said, " and to wish you a pleasant time in our 
country." 

While they uttered these words they scanned me 
from head to foot, jotting a few strokes on their 
note-books. They were taking my portrait, which 
appeared next morning at the head of the articles 
that the press of New York thought fit to devote to 
me. The portrait was a flattering one. One paper, 
however, gave the following description of your 
humble servant : 

" Max O'Rell is a rather globular Frenchman of 
about forty." Then followed a description of my 
travelling suit and other effects. 

" Globular ! " The idea ! 

" Forty ! " No, gentlemen ; thirty-nine, if you 
please. 

But to return to our reporters. 
Question after question was put with the rapidity 
of lightning flashes. 

" Have you had a good passage ? " 
" Are you sick at sea ? " 
" Where were you born ? " 
" How old are you ? " 

" How long do you mean to stay in the United 

States?" 

" How much do your books bring you in ? " 

This catechising began to annoy me. 

?' Excuse me, gentlemen," I said ; " I am tired, 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



143 



and am going to the hotel to rest. I shall be happy 
to see you this afternoon." 

Oh ! that first afternoon in New York, spent in 
the company of the interviewers ; I shall never for- 
get it ! 

The office of my manager, Major* Pond, was 
situated on the ground floor of the Everett House, 
where I had put up. Thither I repaired after lunch, 
to undergo the operation of tapping by eight inter- 
viewers at once. 

" Ah ! " said one of them, after the usual salu- 
tations, " we are going to bore you ; so let us begin 
at the beginning." 

Here I smiled. 

"I know your first question," I said; "you are 
going to ask me whether it is the first time I have 
been in America." 

"That is generally our first question, it is true; 
but I have another to ask you before. You have 
just eaten your first meal in America ; what did you 
have ? " 

I submitted with a good grace, and replied as 
seriously as I could. 

" Gentlemen, I have just been in for a piece of 
turbot, a beefsteak and potato chips, a celery salad, 
and a vanilla ice." 

"And now," remarked another reporter, " I have 
an important question to put to you. I hope it will 
not astonish you." 

* My manager, as the reader will observe, was one of the rare 
Americans who are not Colonels. 



i 4 4 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



" Oh, I am in America," I replied, " and quite 
ready not to be astonished at anything." 

" Well, then," said he, " I wanted to ask you 
what are your impressions of America ? " 

"Excuse me," I exclaimed; "I have only been in 
it three hours, and those three hours have been spent 
in this hotel. You must really allow me to abstain 
for the moment from telling you what I think of 
America ; for you will admit, I hope, that one must 
have passed a whole day at least in America, in 
order to judge it with any accuracy." 

Here I rolled a cigarette, and rang for a lemon 
squash. 

The reporters immediately made an entry in their 
note-books. 

"What is that you have put down ?" I asked. 

A young fellow, with a face beaming with activity 
and intelligence, replied : 

" I wrote that at this point of our conversation 
you rolled a cigarette, and rang for a lemon squash." 

" Really, gentlemen," I ventured to observe, " do 
you imagine that such a remark as that can possess 
the slightest interest for your readers ? " 

" Without doubt," they replied, and all their 
faces wore an imperturbable seriousness that nearly 
made me roar with laughter. 

" Oh, in that case excuse me ; I ought to have 
known that in America, as elsewhere, an intelligent 
man knows his business. Go on with your ques- 
tions ; you interest me greatly." 

The fact is, I began to be immensely amused. 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



145 



The questions recommenced. One wanted bio- 
graphical details ; another, the origin of my pseu- 
donym. One wished to know if I worked in the 
morning, the afternoon, or the evening; another, 
whether I worked sitting or standing up, and also 
whether I used ruled paper and quill pens. One 
man asked me whether I thought in English or in 
French ; another, whether General Boulanger had 
any chance of soon being elected President of the 
French Republic. If I crossed my legs during the 
conversation, if I took off my glasses, nothing 
escaped these journalists ; everything was jotted 
down. 

The questions they asked really appeared to me 
so commonplace, so trivial, that I was almost 
ashamed to think I was the hero of this little 
farce. 

With the idea of giving them something better 
worth writing, I launched into anecdotes, and told 
a few to these interviewers. 

This brought about a little scene which was 
quite comic. If I looked at one reporter a little 
oftener than the rest, while I told an anecdote, he 
would turn to his brethren and say : 

" This story is for my paper ; you have no right 
to take it down, it was told ©specially to me." 

" Not at all," would cry the others ; " it was told 
to all of us." 

In spite of this, the harmony of the meeting was 
not disturbed ; and it was easy to see that an excel- 
lent spirit of fellowship prevailed in the fraternity. 



146 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



With the exception of a phrase or two occasion- 
ally jotted down, they took no notes of my answers 
to their questions ; and I wondered how it was pos- 
sible that, with so few notes, they would manage to 
make an article of a hundred or two hundred lines, 
that would be acceptable in an important paper, out 
of an interview so insignificant and so devoid of 
interest, according to my idea, as this one. 

After having spent nearly two hours over me, 
the reporters shook hands, expressed themselves as 
much obliged to me, and went their way. 

How childish these Americans are ! thought I. 
Is it possible that a conversation such as I have just 
had with those reporters can interest them ? 

Next day I procured all the New York morning 
papers, more from curiosity, I must say in justice to 
myself, than from vanity ; for I was not at all proud 
of my utterances of the day before. 

Judge of my surprise, on opening the first paper, 
to find two columns full of amusing details, pic- 
turesque descriptions, well -told anecdotes, witty 
remarks ; the whole cleverly mingled and arranged 
by men who, I had always supposed, were simple 
stenographers. 

Everything was faithfully reported and artisti- 
cally set down. The smallest incidents were ren- 
dered interesting by the manner of telling. The 
Major, for instance, who, accustomed to this kind of 
interview for many years, had peacefully dropped 
asleep, comfortably installed, with his head on the 
sofa pillows and his feet on the back of a chair ; my 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



*47 



own gestures ; the description of the pretty and 
elegantly furnished office — all was very crisp and 
vivid. They had turned everything to account ; 
even the arrival of the lemon squash was made to 
furnish a little paragraph that was droll and attrac- 
tive. You might have imagined that the whole thing 
was the first chapter of a novel, commencing with 
the majestic entry of a steamer into New York 
harbour. 

Well, I said to myself, the American journalist 
knows, at any rate, how to make a savoury hash out 
of very little. 

Three years ago, when Mr. Grover Cleveland, 
President of the United States, married the pret- 
tiest and most charming of his countrywomen, he 
chose Deer Park as a suitable place to pass his 
honeymoon in, far from the world and its bustle, 
and, above all, far from the reporters. However, 
the ex-President knew only too well the spirit of 
enterprise that possesses his countrymen ; and to 
put himself out of reach of the interviewers, and 
make sure of tranquillity, he thought it well to 
employ eight detectives to guard the approaches 
to his retreat. This number was soon found in- 
sufficient, for' the enemy made his appearance in 
the neighbourhood. The pickets had to be rein- 
forced, and a week later twelve Argus-eyed watchers 
were on the alert to prevent any person whomsoever 
from getting within three hundred yards of the 
cottage. The interviewers were outdone, and had 

11 



148 



Jonathan and his Continent, 



to admit themselves baffled. The papers had no 
details worth giving to their readers. 

This must have been enough to make any enter- 
prising editor tear his hair, or go and hang himself. 

To have in one's editorial drawer such headings 
as " Grover in Clover," or " Drops of Honey Sipped 
in Deer Park," and not to be able to use them ! 

It was hard lines. 

A little anecdote to finish with : 

A young American lady had married a man well 
known as a young political orator of great promise. 

The day after the wedding, her husband having 
gone out, she heard some little struggling outside 
her drawing-room door ; and suddenly there entered 
a very well-dressed man, who made her a most 
polite bow. 

She gazed at him, quite bewildered. 

" Excuse me, madam ; but you married Mr. 
John D. yesterday, I believe ? " 

" I did, sir ; but . . ." 

" I am the Interviewer ! " 

Tableau ! 



Jonathan and his Continent, 



149 



CHAPTER XXI. 

Literature in the United States. — Poets. — Novelists. — 
Essayists. — Critics. — Historians. — Humorists. — Jour- 
nalists. — Writers for the Young. — Future of American 
Literature. 




M E R I C A has not yet produced a 
transcendent literary genius ; but she 
has the right to be proud of a national 
literature which includes poets, histor- 



ians, novelists, essayists, and critics of a superior 
order. 

The English admit that the best history of their 
literature has been written by a Frenchman, M. 
Taine. The Athenczum acknowledged, a short while 
ago, that the best criticism on the English poets of 
the Victorian era was that written by Mr. Edmund 
Clarence Stedman, himself one of the most graceful 
bards of contemporary America. 

In this rapid sketch, I must needs confine myself 
to the mention of merely the principal names which 
adorn the different branches of American literature. 

In poetry, the bright lights are William Cullen 
Bryant and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, both 
pure and noble, and as much appreciated by the 
English as by their own compatriots ; Edgar Allan 
Poe, James Russell Lowell, Oliver Wendell Holmes, 
Edmund Clarence Stedman, Bayard Taylor, John 

II * 



i5o 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



Greenleaf Whittier, Walt Whitman, Richard Watson 
Gilder, Edgar Fawcett, William Winter (the cele- 
brated dramatic critic of the New York Tribune), 
Maria Brooks, and a number of women, who form 
a graceful garland in this garden of poets. In the 
Western dialects, a young poet, Mr. Whitcombe 
Riley, knows how to draw tears through the smiles 
which his humour provokes : he promises to be the 
future Jasmin of America. 

In the domain of romance, we find writers whose 
reputation is as firmly established in Europe as in 
America. Who has not read in his youth the novels 
of Fenimore Cooper ? Who has not thrilled over 
the weird tales of Poe ? Among the most famous 
names in fiction are also Washington Irving, Parker 
Willis, Nathaniel Hawthorne, OliverWendell Holmes, 
Marion Crawford, Frank Stockton, George W. Cable, 
Frances Hodgson Burnett, Henry James, W. D. 
Howells, Julian Hawthorne, Thomas Bailey Aldrich, 
Charles Dudley Warner, Bret Harte (who is also a 
poet), Edward Eggleston, Brander Matthews, Eliza 
Wetherell. All these names are household words 
wherever the English tongue is spoken. The greatest 
success of the century has been attained by an 
American novel, directed against slavery, and instru- 
mental in its destruction. 

Its author, Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe, is a 
sister of the celebrated Henry Ward Beecher, whom 
America still mourns. 

In the philosophical essay, Ralph Waldo Emerson 
and Robert Ingersoll are unapproachable in their 



Jonathan and his Continent. 151 



different styles. The first shines by his originality 
and a subtle power of reasoning ; the second b}' the 
grandeur of his language, his keen, clear reasoning 
power, and his humour and pathos. 

In literary criticism must be named George 
William Curtis, as well as Stedman and Winter, 
already named among the poets. 

History is perhaps, of all the branches of Ameri- 
can literature, that which has found its highest 
expression. Washington Irving, with his History of 
Columbus ; Prescott, with the History of Ferdinand and 
Isabella, the History of the Conquest of Mexico and Peru, 
and the History of Philip II.; Bancroft, with a History 
of the American Revolution ; Hildreth, Sparks, and 
others, have produced a national history from the 
discovery of their country down to our own days. 

It seems curious that the vast and grandiose 
regions they inhabit should not have inspired the 
Americans with taste and talent for descriptions of 
Nature. Fenimore Cooper is the only great scene 
painter produced by the immensities of the great 
Western Continent. 

Humorists swarm in the United States. Artemus 
Ward and Mark Twain are two pseudonyms justly 
famous at home and abroad. There is a third on the 
road that leads to similar celebrity. Bill Nye has 
the same droll way as Mark Twain of droning out 
irresistible comicalities with that solemn sang froid 
which is not met with outside the frontiers of 
Yankeeland. When he mounts the platform, the 
audience prepares to be dislocated with laughter. 



152 



Jonathan and his Continent, 



Although the names of Charles A. Dana, White- 
law Reid, Park Godwin, and many others, are well 
known to the reading public of America, it is in the 
large Reviews, and not in the newspapers, that 
really literary articles are to be found. 

Children — if there are any children in America — 
are not forgotten by literature. It is safe to affirm 
that there is no country where children are so well 
written for, by authors who have the secret of in- 
structing them while they charm and amuse them. 
Love and sympathy for children must be a sponta- 
neous outgrowth of the gay and tender American 
character. Mrs. Hodgson Burnett, the late Louisa 
Alcott, Mrs. Lippincott (better known as Grace 
Greenwood), and Fanny Fern, will for ages to come 
fascinate the whole of the English-speaking juvenile 
world. 

In these rapid outlines, I must have omitted 
many names. I hope I have mentioned enough to 
show a guarantee of a brilliant literary future for the 
country. 

A nation so intelligent, so energetic, so prominent 
in the world of action, could not possibly be sterile 
in the domain of thought. 



Jonathan and his Continent, 



153 



CHAPTER XXII. 

The Stage in the United States. — The " Stars." — French Plays. 
Mr. Augustin Daly's Company. — The American Public. 
— The Theatres. — Detailed Programmes. — A Regrettable 
Omission. 

t"lf*#HE American stage boasts some excellent 

J JL T actors ; but it owes its prestige rather to 
*/ JJ\> the talent of a few brilliant individualities 
than to distinction of ensemble. 
The plays are written for certain actors, and the 
secondary parts are made to serve the purpose of 
throwing up the " star." This is why the French 
plays that are transplanted to the stage of America 
generally fail. I saw one very striking proof of this 
in New York. Mr. Abbey, the indefatigable impre- 
sario, director of Wallack's Theatre, brought out 
UAbbe Constantin. The principal role was entrusted 
to Mr. John Gilbert, a veteran of the American stage. 
Certainly M. Got himself could not have played the 
part of the good old priest with more simplicity, 
tenderness, or pathos ; but this was not enough in a 
piece which demands at least half a dozen actors 
of talent, and the play was a complete failure. 

French plays-are written, not for "stars," but for 
whole companies of actors. The author knows that 
such and such an actor will play the lover, that 
certain others will take the voles of the father, the 



154 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



prosaic notary, the brilliant officer, the valet ; that 
certain actresses will create the parts of the coquette, 
the ingenue, the soubrette, the duenna. He knows that 
the director will only entrust the members of his 
company with such parts as are well within their 
province. The translator of these plays runs his bark 
with a light heart towards the rocks of failure. Some- 
times he does worse than translate — he adapts. A 
study of French manners is transferred to America 
with American personages. The play becomes in- 
comprehensible, unreal, and it is not the acting of a 
" star " that can redeem or save it. 

American theatres are not subventioned by the 
State, and private enterprise can scarcely afford to 
give the public the luxury of a whole company of 
talent. The "star" is usually his or her own 
manager, draws the public, and realises the profits. 
The repertoire consists of two or three plays, which 
are performed before a New York audience for a 
month or two, and then taken around to the chief 
cities of the States. 

This is why one sees fresh companies nearly every 
week in half the theatres. To-day a drama, next 
week a comedy, opera-bouffe the week after. Some- 
times the change is still more brusque. Mr. Irving 
and Miss Terry gave a series of performances at the 
"Star" Theatre, New York, during the month of 
March last. On their departure, they were succeeded 
by a troupe of performing monkeys. The theatre 
was just as likely to have been hired by travelling 
revivalists. 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



155 



There is but one company of actors in America, 
and that is Mr. Augustin Daly's excellent company 
of comedians. I have seen comedies played with 
much ensemble at the Union Square, Madison 
Square, and Lyceum theatres, in New York ; but 
Mr. Daly's picked company is incomparably superior 
to any other to be seen in America, or, for that 
matter, in England either, if one excepts the admir- 
ably even opera company of the Savoy. Mr. John 
Drew is a young lover, agreeable to look at, gentle- 
manly, natural, persuasive, full of life. Mr. James 
Lewis, whose grotesque face is a veritable fortune, 
is the best high-class comic actor on the American 
stage ; Miss Ada Rehan's coquetry is irresistible. A 
certain coaxing drawl in her musical voice lends great 
seductiveness to a very handsome presence, and gives 
an additional charm to her clever acting. Mrs. Gil- 
bert, who is so like Mdlle. Jouassin, of the Comedie- 
Frangaise, as to be mistaken for her, is the equal of 
that actress in some of her " duennas " parts. The 
actor whose role consists of handing a card or letter 
to his master is an artist. This is the stage as we 
are used to it France. 

If good companies are rare in America, good 
actors are numerous. 

The greatest American actor is Mr. Edwin Booth, 
who is so justly famous for his interpretations of Shakes- 
perian roles in America and England. Mr. Lawrence 
Barrett is also a highly talented tragedian. In 
comedy, two veterans, Mr. John Gilbert and Mr. 



156 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



Lester Wallack * must be named first, then Messrs. 
Robson and Crane. In purely American plays, Mr. 
Joseph Jeffreson is an unrivalled exponent of simple, 
touching parts. I had the good fortune to see him 
in Rip Van Winkle, a role which belongs to him as 
Pierre Chopart belongs to M. Paulin Menier. Mayo, 
Florence, Harrigan, are names which are connected 
with a thousand successes in the minds of the 
Americans. Mr. Steele Mackaye is a good actor, 
besides being a dramatic author of great ability. 
His play, Paul Kauvar, with its realistic scenes of 
the French Revolution, would doubtless draw all 
Paris, if ever the directors of the Porte St. Martin 
or the Ambigu took it into their heads to mount it. 
For original, fantastic creations, the palm must be 
awarded to Mr. Richard Mansfield. I wish M. 
Octave Feuillet the pleasure of seeing this young 
and versatile actor play the part of Baron Chevrial 
in The Parisian Romance. The conception is as bold 
as it is artistic. For cleverness at " making-up," 
Mr. Mansfield is unrivalled. 

I was not astonished to see La Tosca succeed in 
the United States. M. Sardou, having written this 
play for a " star," a " star " suffices for the successful 
playing of it. Miss Fanny Davenport's acting com- 
bines vigour, grace, and dignity. In the third and 
fourth acts of La Tosca, this actress rises to the level 
of the great tragediennes. 

The greatest actress on the American stage is a 
Pole. Madame Modjeska has no living rival but 

* America has just lost this excellent aclor. 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



157 



Madame Sarah Bernhardt, whom, to my thinking, 
she sometimes even surpasses. Her interpretation 
of the Dame aux Camelias appeared to me superior 
to that of her great French rival. Madame Mod- 
jeska does not, perhaps, put into this part the fire, 
the depth of passion, that Madame Sarah Bernhardt 
displays, but she endows it with more feminine grace 
— with more purity. She appeals less to the senses, 
but more to the heart ; she subjugates the spectator 
less, but touches him more : it is the courtesan re- 
deemed, purified by love, as M. Alexandre Dumas 
conceived her. 

The American theatres are spacious, elegant, well 
lit and well ventilated. The seats are comfortable, and 
that French bugbear, the ouvreuse de loge, is unknown. 

The ground floor is entirely covered with stalls, 
but the rise, from the proscenium to the back of the 
theatre, is so considerable that the spectators sitting 
on the last row have as good a view of the stage as 
those in front; and a good thing it is so, for the 
women adorn their heads with such monuments of 
millinery when they go to the play, that, if the floor 
were horizontal and you had a stall that was not on 
the first row, you would have to trust to the kindness 
of the ladies in front to tell you what went on upon 
the stage. 

With the exception of the Metropolitan Opera 
House and two or three other large theatres, the 
auditoriums are only fitted up with stalls, one or 
two galleries, and a very few boxes. 



158 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



Prices are moderate, and range from six to two 
shillings. For lower tastes or leaner purses, there 
are the Bowery theatres, where melodramas, variety 
shows, and harlequinades are served up, and the 
price of admission is but sixpence or a shilling. 

The Americans have an unbearable trick of arriv- 
ing late at the theatre. For twenty minutes after 
the curtain rises there is a constant bustling and 
rustling of new comers, which debars you from the 
pleasure of following the actors' speeches. If the 
play begins at eight, they come at a quarter-past ; 
if it begins at a quarter-past, they come at half- 
past, and so on. At the time appointed for the cur- 
tain to rise the stalls are empty. This bad habit 
annoys the actors and disturbs the spectators ; but 
the evil is incurable, and managers try vainly to stop 
it. I know one who followed the advertisements of 
his play by this paragraph : 

" The public are solemnly warned that, unless the 
whole of the first scene be witnessed, the subsequent 
action of the play cannot be understood." 

His efforts were crowned with failure. Not to 
understand the play is a pity ; but not to create a 
sensation when one comes in, dressed in one's most 
killing attire, is out of the question. 

It is the same at concerts and lectures. Those 
who have engaged their seats in advance, come in a 
quarter of an hour or twenty minutes after the time 
fixed for commencing. When every one is placed, 
the concert or lecture begins. The early comers, 
who have to wait until the late ones have arrived, 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



159 



utter not a murmur. The patience of the American 
public is angelic. 

As the public enter the vestibule of an American 
theatre they are supplied with programmes. These 
are gratis, and give an argument of the play, also the 
names of all the employes of the establishment. First 
the names of the actors and actresses, coupled with 
those they bear in their respective roles; then the 
name of the manager, the business manager, the 
treasurer, the assistant-treasurer, the musical direc- 
tor, the master machinist, the master carpenter, the 
master of properties, the chief engineer, the head 
usher, the advertising agent, the detective, the gas- 
lighter, etc. If, instead of gas, theatres were lit with 
candles, as of yore, the snuffer would have his name 
announced to the public in this flourish of trumpets. 

If there is a piano used in the play, the pro- 
gramme gives you the name of the maker; if a 
repast is served in one of the acts, the programme 
tells you the name of the restaurateur who provides 
it. If there are rugs and carpets, you are informed 
who sold them. In a word, you are made acquainted 
with all the slightest details concerning the manage- 
ment of the theatre. 

There is sometimes an omission, but only one. 
It occasionally happens that the name of the author 
of the play is not given. After all, when one goes to 
see the Parisian Romance, of what interest can it be 
to know the name of the author ? 

It is only Octave Feuillet, 



i6o 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



CHAPTER XXIII. 

The Religion of the Americans. — Religious Sects. — Why 
Jonathan Goes to Church. — Walk in, Ladies and Gentle- 
men, " this is the Place to be Saved and Happy." — Irre- 
sistible Invitations. — The Esoterists. — Why Die when 
Immortality is Attainable ? — The Recipe. — Faith Cure. 
— A Highly -recommended Book. — Seventh Day Hypo- 
crisy. — To Choose Goods is not to Buy Them. — " Great 
Scott!" — Religion and Republicanism Live Happily 
together in America. 




HE Americans are Christians; that is to 
say, they attend church on Sundays. 
Like other Christians, they attend to 
business on week-days. 



In America, religion is served up with sauces to 
suit all palates. Independently of the Catholic reli- 
gion, there are 189 different religious sects. England 
has only 185. 

Every good preacher draws a full congregation, 
no matter to which sect he belongs. The church in 
itself is not the attraction, and the minister has no 
other influence over the people than that which he 
exercises by his oratorical talents. A religious or 
moral lecture is as popular as a literary lecture, a 
concert, or a play. 

Put a bad preacher into an American pulpit, and 
he will soon empty the church ; replace him by a 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



161 



gifted orator, and soon there will be " standing 
room " only, and every seat will be at a premium. 

The priesthood is not a vocation ; it is a profes- 
sion : no talent, no success. An American will go 
and listen to the minister of a sect differing from his 
own, rather than sit and be bored by a tiresome 
preacher belonging to his own denomination. He 
will rather go to hear Dr. MacGlyn, the excommu- 
nicated Roman Catholic priest, or Dr. Felix Adler, 
the eloquent agnostic ; religious as he is, he will 
sometimes regret that Colonel Ingersoll does not 
appear in public on Sundays any longer ; Protestant 
as he is, he has no scruple about going to hear a 
musical mass in the Catholic cathedral ; in fact, you 
can see him everywhere, except in the churches 
where dulness prevails, and the mind waits in vain 
for fresh nourishment. 

The churches advertise a preacher in the news- 
papers as the theatres advertise a "star." In default 
of a good preacher, other attractions are put forward 
to draw the public. How resist the two following 
appeals, posted at the doors of a New York and a 
Chicago church ? I copied them word for word with 
great care : 

" Musical evangelists, solos, short sermons. The 
place to be happy and saved." 

Walk in, ladies and gentlemen, walk in. 

The other, more seductive still, was worded 
thus : 

" No reason for not coming. Free seats, cheer- 
ful services. Books supplied to the congregation," 



l62 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



The public are requested to leave the books in 
the seats after use. 

Religious sects multiply every day. No doctrine 
is too absurd to make proselytes. 

The latest religious invention in America is Eso- 
terism, which promises immortality to its followers — 
immortality, that is all ! The doctrine of the Eso- 
terists teaches that, if man were really pure, and 
followed the precepts of the Gospel to the letter, he 
would become immortal, not in Paradise, but here 
below. As it is probable that no Christian ever yet 
succeeded in following minutely the precepts of the 
Gospel, the Esoterists may be right. To live for 
ever, say they, you have only to remain virtuous, 
even in the married state. Celibacy must be em- 
braced. Celibacy pure and simple, however, is not 
sufficient ; for where there is no struggle, there is no 
victory. Devotees must, therefore, marry; but, in 
all honour, remain celibates. If you succeed in 
mastering your passions, no malady will attack you, 
and you will become immortal. 

"But," you will say, "do the Esoterists never 
die ? " Yes, they die — once ; but, according to them, 
this does not prove the fallacy of their belief. If 
they die, it simply proves that they have failed to 
attain the necessary degree of perfection. 

Now, the Esoterists are safe to continue with 
us ; for either they will arrive at perfection and 
become immortal, or they will fall away from grace 
and will have children to swell their ranks. The 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



163 



head of this sect, which is as yet only about two 
years old, claims that when the Esoterists attain 
perfection, not only will they be immortal, but they 
will have a clear insight into the future, a gift which 
will enable them to amass great riches. And, in- 
deed, the utility of such an accomplishment, on the 
Stock Exchange, for instance, must be apparent at a 
glance. 

Another sect pretends to be able to cure all dis- 
ease by faith. The faith of these fanatics is not 
shaken by the death of their patients. " If they 
had had more faith, they would have recovered." 
Doctor Sangrado cured all illnesses by bleedings 
and hot water. When a patient died, it was because 
the bleeding had been too copious or not copious 
enough, and the water administered too hot or too 
cool. The theory remained excellent. 

All these new sects are commercial enterprises, 
some of them established on the plan of limited 
liability companies. A room is hired, and supplied 
with a table and chairs, and a few novelty-hunters 
are soon attracted to the embryo temple. These in 
turn draw others, and by-and-by a more imposing 
meeting-place is secured, and the pockets of the 
proselytes are appealed to for funds to found what 
is called "The Lord's Treasury." Many poor simple 
folk have been persuaded into giving all they 
possessed to the " Lord's Treasury." 

No need to put by a reserved fund : human 
credulity is an inexhaustible mine. 

Fortune-tellers are punished with from six 
12 



164 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



months' to two years' imprisonment. How is it 
the law allows schemers to found a " Lord's Trea- 
sury " by promising immortality to the geese who 
bring their money to it ? It looks as if, in America, 
as in England, swindling may be practised with 
impunity in the name of religion. 

One meets with just as many cases of the adroit 
blending of the worship of God and Mammon. 

A publisher, who is not above making money by 
the sale of books stolen from English and French 
authors, is yet godly enough to build a church with 
part of the proceeds. 

An immense quantity of literary piracies isssues 
from another firm, whose warehouse rejoices in the 
appellation of " Bible House." 

A popular preacher sells his church sittings by 
auction. 

Another furnishes to a syndicate advance sheets 
of the sermons he preaches on Sunday; so that the 
principal papers throughout the United States are 
able to furnish their readers, on Monday morning, 
with the full discourse delivered the day before in 
Brooklyn. 

During my stay in America, a well-known evan- 
gelist published a volume of sermons with the 
following preface : " God has been kind enough to 
own the words when I spoke them. I hope He will 
give His blessing to the book, now that the same 
words appear in print." Many books are published 
in France with the remark, " A work approved of 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



165 



by Mgr. the Archbishop of " A volume, adver- 
tised as having been owned and blessed by the Lord 
Himself, ought to have a wild sale. 

Sabbatarian hypocrisy is as flourishing in the 
eastern States of America as in England and 
Scotland. 

I was visiting the sub-tropical Exhibition at 
Jacksonville one Sunday, and at a certain stall I 
chose a few little natural curiosities. 

" I cannot sell them to you to - day," said 
the stall - keeper to me, after well puffing his 
wares. 

"No? Why?" 

" Because it is Sunday. I can put them aside 
for you ; but you must buy them to-morrow." 

This is the kind of thing one is supposed to 
admire. 

A truly edifying sight is that of the noisy, dirty, 
blaspheming crowd collected on a Sunday evening 
outside Madison Square Gardens, New York, on 
the eve of a "six days' go-as-you-please walking 
match." From six or seven in the evening there 
is a betting, swearing match outside the gates. 
But the walking only begins at one minute past 
midnight. 

Not to take the name of God in vain, the English 
have invented many euphemisms ; some men, imag- 
ining, I suppose, that the Deity takes no cognisance 
of any language but English, venture so far as to 
say mon Dieu or mein Gott. 

12 * 



i66 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



At this kind of thing the Americans are as clever 
as the English. They have invented Great Scott ! 

Something admirable in all the main religious 
sects of America is their national character. 

When I hear it said that religion is the sworn 
enemy of progress, especially of Republican insti- 
tutions, I turn to America and say to myself, " This 
is not true." 

There is no minister of religion, from the arch- 
bishops down to the most unlettered preachers of 
all the small isms, who would dare to tell his congre- 
gation that liberty is not the most precious, the most 
sacred of their possessions, or that the Republic is 
not the most admirable form of Government — the 
only possible one — for America. 

In France, there is much indifference on the 
subject of religion ; but a great deal of incredulity is 
affected to satisfy a political bias. I am certain that 
if, in France, you searched into the hearts of the 
people, you would find there much less atheism 
than in many other nations. Religious belief seems 
to be the apanage of the Royalist party, and other 
people think they make a show of Republicanism 
by throwing over the belief of the Royalists. The 
religious man is rather looked upon as a political 
enemy than as a religious antagonist. This is the 
true explanation of much apparent agnosticism in 
France. It must also be remarked that plenty of 
Royalists only affect piety, and go regularly to 
church, as a protest against Republicanism, and 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



167 



that many Republicans may be excused for taking 
this display of religion for an act of hostility towards 
their pet institutions. 

This state of things is deplorable. Both sides 
are to blame for it. 

In England and America, where the form of 
Government is questioned by no one, religion does 
not clash with progress and liberty, but lives with 
democracy in peace and harmony, as becomes a 
faith whose grand precept is: " Love ye one another." 



i68 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



CHAPTER XXIV. 

Colonel IngersolVs Ideas, — The Man. — His Life. — His Works. 
— A Minister declines to take his Place either in this World 
or the Next. 




ONE day asked one of the cleverest ladies 
of New York whether she knew Colonel 
Ingersoll. 

" No," she answered, " I do not know 



him, and I do not wish to make his acquaintance." 
" May I ask why ? " I said. 
She replied : 

" Simply because I am told it is impossible to 
know him without admiring and loving him." 
"Well?" 

" Well, I don't want to admire or love him." 

I had the honour of making his acquaintance, 
and, like all those who have approached and known 
him, I soon loved and admired him. 

He is one of the greatest figures of his great 
country. In a book on contemporary America one 
must needs speak of this celebrated advocate. He 
is a personality apart. He has little in common with 
the rest of his countrymen but the title of Colonel. 

Once more I say it : in this book of jottings I do 
not sit in judgment, I merely describe impressions of 



Jonathan and his Continent. 169 



what I have seen and heard. It is not necessary to 
endorse a man's theories in order to enjoy his society; 
and this is especially true in the case of Colonel 
Ingersoll, who is many-sided in his powers, and who 
charms theologians and agnostics alike when religion 
is not on the tapis. 

Colonel Robert Ingersoll is a man of about sixty, 
six teet high, and strongly built, a colossus physically 
and intellectually; the eyes sparkle with wit and beam 
with the joy of life ; the mouth is humorous and 
smiling ; the head large and well planted on broad 
shoulders ; the face shaven ; the brain bristling with 
great thoughts ; a man with the heart of a lion to 
fight the battles of life, but the heart of a woman in 
presence of human suffering. 

He has substituted for the love of religion the 
religion of love and of the family. According to 
him, religion should have but one aim : to teach us 
how to be happy in this life. He repeats, with 
Christ : " Love one another ; do not to others what 
you would not have others do to you." And he 
adds: "A God that is represented as weaving webs 
to catch the souls of men whom he has created is 
not adorable." As to a future life, the Colonel does 
not commit himself. He says : " We do not know, 
we cannot tell, whether death is a door or a wall : a 
spreading of pinions to soar or the folding of wings 
for ever." In the eyes of many pious people his 
theories are abominable, and he is the Antichrist : 
but the Americans are unanimous in admitting his 
extraordinary talents ; and among the dear friends 



170 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



of the Colonel and his family are many Presbyterians, 
some of them ministers. 

Antichrist, if you will — that is, if you can imagine 
such a personage endowed with every moral and 
intellectual faculty. In his presence, men feel them- 
selves small, and women put their hands over their 
eyes, being careful to keep the fingers well apart. A 
decidedly dangerous Antichrist, this. 

Mr. Ingersoll is not only America's greatest 
living orator, he is a great writer and a great 
thinker: an infusion, as it were, of Johnson, Voltaire, 
and Milton. He possesses the logic of the first, the 
persiflage of the second, and some of the sublimity 
of the third. His arguments are constructed like 
geometrical propositions ; his style is vigorous, 
as clear as it is graceful, as poetic as it is humorous ; 
and his verve is inexhaustible. 

The trinity that he worships is the trinity of 
Science : Reason, Observation, and Experience. 

His enemies call him Atheist, because he does 
not believe in their God. Man has made unto him- 
self a God in his own image, and is apt to treat as 
Atheists all who do not worship him. 

But Voltaire himself, who said that "if a God 
did not already exist, it would be necessary to invent 
Him," is still called an Atheist by many ignorant 
people. 

I never heard Mr. Ingersoll say he did not believe 
in a God. 

He will not acknowledge the existence of Jehovah, 
the God of the Jews : a God who commanded the 



Jonathan and his Continent, 



171 



people of His choice to exterminate their enemies, 
sparing neither old men, women, nor children. In 
his eyes Jehovah is a myth, the creation of a 
cowardly, ungrateful, and bloodthirsty race. 

Mr. Ingersoll is not the only earnest seeker after 
truth who has been puzzled to reconcile the idea of 
this cruel, revengeful, implacable deity with that of 
the gentle, merciful Saviour who taught the doctrine 
of love and forgiveness in Palestine, and bade His 
disciples put up their swords in the presence of His 
persecutors. 

" If God exists," said Mr. Ingersoll to a Presby- 
terian minister, who was engaged in a discussion 
with him upon religion, " he is certainly as good as 
you are." " Your God," he says to the Presbyterians, 
"is a Torquemada who denies to his countless 
victims the mercy of death." And when he sees 
human miseries, the injustices of this world, war, 
pestilence, famines, and inundations, the Colonel 
reproaches Jehovah with passing too much time in 
numbering the hairs of His creatures. 

In the opinion of Robert Ingersoll, a religion is 
not moral which practically says to man : " Do not 
sin ; but if you do sin, console yourself, come to me 
and I will forgive you." Such a theory is not cal- 
culated to improve mankind, who should be taught 
to do good, not in the hope of being one day 
rewarded for it, not in the fear of being punished for 
the neglect of it, but out of love and admiration for 
what is good, and with the aim of adding to the 
happiness of their fellow-creatures. Mr. Ingersoll's 



172 



religion is the religion of humanity ; he says : 
" Happiness is the only good; the time to be happy 
is now, and the way to be happy is to make others 
so." Live to do good, to love, and be beloved by 
those around, and then lie down and sleep with the 
consciousness of having done your duty to men. 
Do not ask pardon of God for an injury done to 
man. Ask pardon of the man, and make reparation 
to him for your offence. 

" I rob Smith," exclaims Mr. Ingersoll in the 
ironical language he is such a master of, " God 
forgives me. How does that help Smith ? " 

He maintains that the Christian religion teaches 
less the love of an infinitely just and merciful God, 
than the fear of a demon thirsting for human victims. 
This charge is borne out by a proverb used by the 
Scot, who is a student of human nature : 

"// the deil were de'ed, God wad na be served so 
weel" 

The Colonel maintains that if man has had 
hands given him to feel, eyes to see, ears to hear, he 
has also a brain to think, a heart to love, and 
intelligence to reason with. 

He does not attack so much the Catholic religion, 
which rests on faith; for a religion which rests purely 
on faith is not a matter for reasoning and argument. 
But he attacks rather a Protestantism which prides 
itself upon resting on reason as well as on faith. 

The theories of Colonel Ingersoll are the natural 
outcome of the introduction of reasoning into religious 
matters. 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



173 



Things which are felt only, cannot be discussed ; 
things which are incomprehensible are not matter for 
explanation. 

Protestantism is a mixture of faith and reason 
agreeing pretty badly together, it must be confessed. 
The Protestant takes the Bible for a book, every 
word of which is inspired of God. He interprets it 
in his own fashion, and proves out of it every doctrine 
he requires to found a new sect. The very drunkard 
is not at a loss to find an excuse for his drinking, and 
turning to Isaiah (lxv. 13), comforts himself with : 
" Behold, my servants shall drink." 

As he looks on at the Protestants squabbling over 
the signification of biblical passages, the Colonel 
laughingly says : " It is to be regretted that your 
deity did not express himself more clearly." 

Needless to say that he looks upon the Bible, not 
as an inspired book, but as a collection of literature 
something akin to the Arabian Nights, and this is 
what makes discussion with him difficult, if not out 
of the question. How is it possible to imagine a 
discussion between Faith and Reason ? 

To Protestants, the practice of religion is an 
occupation for Sundays. To Mr. Ingersoll, it is an 
occupation for every waking hour, and consists in 
accomplishing your duty to your fellow-creatures. 

George Sand says the fanatic loves God to the 
exclusion of man. The theories of Colonel Ingersoll, 
lofty and noble as most of them are, verge upon 
fanaticism in the sense that they teach the love of 
mankind to the exclusion of Him who so loved man. 



174 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



The Colonel robs the poor and sorrowing of that 
which helps them to endure their ills, a belief in a 
better world to come. 

Son of a Protestant minister, Robert Ingersoll 
early showed special aptitude for the discussion of 
theological questions. By the age of sixteen, he had 
thoroughly studied the Old Testament, and would 
reason upon it like a doctor of divinity. The father 
in vain drew Robert's attention to the beauties of 
the Bible, the son could see little in it but absurdities 
and inconsistencies. The old minister was heard to 
say : " It grieves me to hear my Robbie talk so, but 
I declare he is too much for me — I cannot answer 
him." 

Who can answer Ingersoll ? is a question often 
asked. Apparently, not the ministers of the hundreds 
of different Protestant sects that flourish in America; 
not Mr. Gladstone, student of the Bible and profound 
reasoner though he be. 

For more than a year the President of the XlXth 
Century Club of New York was trying to get a 
Protestant clergyman to break a lance with this 
redoubtable agnostic in public, but without avail. 
Not one felt equal to the task. 

That which makes this man so formidable is not 
so much his eloquence, his quick repartee, his 
sarcasm, his pathos, his humour; it is, above all, the 
life he leads, the example he sets of all the domestic 
virtues. One must have had the privilege of know- 
ing him intimately, of penetrating into that sanctuary 



Jonathan and his Continent, 



175 



of conjugal happiness, his home, before one can 
form an idea of the respect that he must inspire even 
in those who abhor his doctrines. His house is the 
home of the purest joys ; it holds four hearts that 
beat as one. 

Mr. Ingersoll lives in one of the handsome houses 
on Fifth Avenue. His family consists of his wife 
and two lovely daughters, Athens and Venice, as an 
American whom I met at Colonel Ingersoll's used to 
call them. Indeed, one reminds you of the beautiful 
creations of Titian. The other seems like a mytho- 
logical vision, a nymph from the banks of Erymanthus. 
As you look at her, while she speaks to you with her 
eyes modestly lowered, almost seeming to apologise 
for being so lovely, you involuntarily think of Le 
Jeune malade of Andre Chenier, that last of the 
Greek poets, as Edmond About called him. 

Authors, journalists, artists, members of the think- 
ing world of New York may be met at the Colonel's 
charming Sunday evenings. About eleven at night, 
when all but the intimate friends of the family have 
left, these latter draw around their host, and entice 
him to talk upon one of his favourite subjects : 
poetry, music, or maybe the "mistakes of Moses," 
while they listen with avidity. He knows his 
Shakespeare as thoroughly as the Bible, only he 
speaks of him with far more respect and admiration. 
He adores Wagner, whom he sets even above 
Beethoven. I mention this to prove once more that 
we all have our little faults, and that Mr. Ingersoll, 
in common with his fellow-mortals, is not perfect. 



176 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



Between midnight and one in the morning, the last 
visitors reluctantly depart. On the way home 
you think of all the witty things that have been 
said ; the arrows of satire that have been shot at 
hypocrisy and humbug ; the ennobling humanitarian 
opinions that have been advanced ; and though you 
may not feel converted, or diverted, or perverted to 
Ingersollism, you are sure to leave that house feeling 
fuller of goodwill towards all men, and saying to 
yourself, " What a delightful evening I have passed! " 

I was present one evening at a meeting of the 
XlXth Century Club, to hear a discussion on " The 
poetry of the future." Colonel Ingersoll was to have 
taken part in it, but, being retained professionally at 
Washington, he was obliged to excuse himself at the 
eleventh hour. The President immediately tele- 
graphed to a well-known minister, asking him to 
take the Colonel's place. 

" I distinctly decline to take Colonel IngersolPs 
place in this world or the next," exclaimed the 
recipient of the telegram, as soon as he had read it. 
The reverend gentleman nevertheless took part in 
the evening's debate, and when he repeated his 
repartee to the audience, was greeted with hearty 
laughter and applause. 

Now, the lot of Colonel Ingersoll in this world is 
very enviable, for his profession brings him in a most 
handsome income. As to refusing his place in the 
next, what an absurdity ! 

When Robert Ingersoll presents himself at the 



Jonathan and his Continent, 



177 



gates of Paradise, and St. Peter sees that good, open 
face, radiant with happiness, the doors will be thrown 
wide to let him pass, and the saint will say : 

" Come, Robert, come in. Thy happy face 
pleases me. We have just let in a cargo of long- 
faced folk — Presbyterians, I '11 be bound — and it 
does one good to look at thee. Thou hast done thy 
utmost to stifle the hydra-headed monster, Supersti- 
tion, and to destroy the infamous calumnies which 
are in circulation on the subject of the Lord. Come 
in, friend ; thou hast loved, thou hast been beloved ; 
thou hast preached concord, mercy, love, happiness : 
come take thy place amongst the benefactors of the 
human race." 



178 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



CHAPTER XXV. 

Justice. — Comparison Favourable to America. — Judicial Pro- 
cedure. — The - Accused was Paid Cash. — A Criminal 
Hunt. — The Juries and their Powers. — Slow Dealings of 
American Justice. — False Philanthropy. — Twelve or 
Sixteen Minutes at the Wrong End of a Rope. — A Savage 
Club Anecdote. 

HAVE no intention of entertaining the 
reader on the subject of the judicial 
organisation in the United States. I refer 
him for that to the Tocquevilles of every 
country, to our own Tocqueville especially. I do 
not concern myself, in this volume, with American 
institutions, but simply with the ways and manners 
of the Americans. 

I had just returned from America, and was sit- 
ting in the smoking-room of the North- Western 
Hotel, Liverpool. I was chatting with an American, 
fellow-passenger on the Atlantic voyage, while ad- 
miring St. George's Hall, which stands opposite. 
This magnificent building, which serves as a Court 
of Justice, is the finest modern edifice of the English 
provinces. 

All at once we heard a blast of trumpets. A crowd 
rushed towards the Hall, and lined the flight of steps 
leading to the grand entrance. Heralds and lac- 




Jonathan and his Continent, 



179 



queys, all bedizened with scarlet and gold, presently 
descended the steps, followed by police officers. 
Several carriages then drew up. 

From one of these, there alighted a man arrayed 
in a scarlet robe and ermine tippet, and wearing a 
powdered wig. The scarlet robe, followed by the 
cortege which had formed, solemnly mounted the steps 
between the crowd, which stood gazing with open- 
mouthed and wide-eyed admiration. 

" What show is there going on opposite ?" asked 
the American, in the easy-going tone that so distin- 
guishes the Yankee. 

He was an "Innocent abroad." 

" My dear sir," I said to him, " it is simply a 
judge going to try a thief or two. England honours 
her criminals with a great deal of parade, as you see." 

My American was silent for a few minutes. He 
was probably adding up the salaries of the judge, the 
police officers, heralds and ushers, the lawyers' fees, 
the cost of the building, carriages, and show gener- 
ally ; and no doubt comparing the total with the 
pound or two stolen from his employer by a dis- 
honest clerk, for whom all this grand representation 
was taking place. 

Nothing is more simple than an American court of 
justice. Four walls innocent of decoration of any 
kind, a few plain chairs or benches. No uniforms, 
no robes, no wigs, no trumpets, no liveried ushers. 
The judge and the barristers are in black frock-coats. 
The ushers are not quite so well dressed as the 
barristers, and that is all. 

13 



i8o 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



As in England, the accused is not allowed speech. 
If he has questions to put, his counsel is at his side, 
and speaks for him. It is the counsel who examine 
and cross-examine the witnesses, and plead before 
the jury. The judge presides, and does nothing 
more. 

The accused is provided with a chair in the 
middle of the room, almost in the midst of the 
public. Several times I was obliged to ask someone 
present : " Which of all those people is the prisoner ? " 

An American trial is completely shorn of parade. 
It is not, as in England, and especially in France, a 
grand spectacular performance, but simply a man 
appearing before his townsmen to plead guilty to a 
misdeed or to prove his innocence of it — it is a family 
wash, if I may be allowed the expression. 

The simplicity of the procedure is such that one 
day, after having been introduced to a presiding 
judge, I was asked by him to take a seat at his side, 
so as to hear and see better all that went on. 

Simplicity goes further still occasionally. 

An accused, having one day got up and begun to 
apostrophise his judge in anything but polite terms, 
that representative of justice left his seat, took off 
his coat, made for the man, and gave him a sound 
drubbing ; then, resuming his seat, he said to the 
lawyers : 

"The incident, which has just occurred, has 
nothing to do with the case that we have to consider. 
As a man, I have given him a thrashing. As judge, 
I will now proceed with his case ; please, go on." 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



181 



This magistrate, far from resenting the insults of 
the accused, thought no more of them, after having 
paid the man cash in this way. He summed up in 
most impartial fashion, and the jury returned a 
verdict of " not guilty." 

In France, we pay a legion — a host rather — of 
judges and police officers, to look after our security, 
and never should we dream of helping them in the 
exercise of their functions. If a crime remain wrap- 
ped in mystery, we say to ourselves : " I pay the 
police, it is for them to discover the criminal ; it is 
not my business, and, besides, the profession of detec- 
tive is not in my line." 

It is not the same in the United States. There 
public safety concerns everyone. 

The population of a town feels dishonoured by 
the perpetration of a crime in their midst. Every- 
one is on the alert to catch the criminal; men organise 
themselves into bands to search the country round. 
An assassin is tracked in the woods with bloodhounds 
and guns, like a wild beast ; if he is discovered, and 
offers a very obstinate resistance, a bullet is lodged 
in his body, and the hunters go tranquilly home 
again. 

When a crime has produced a violent sensation 
in a town and it is feared the criminal may not be 
judged there with impartiality, he is taken to a dis- 
tance, out of the way of prejudices, to be tried. 

13 * 



182 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



This is a curious contrast with lynch law, of which 
I shall speak in another chapter. 

Something else to admire. 

In England and France, a jury only pronounces 
upon the innocence or guilt of the accused. In 
England, a jury has not even, as it has in France, 
the right to admit extenuating circumstances. Eng- 
lish and French juries are often astounded when they 
hear the judge pronounce sentence. Their intention 
was to get the accused sent to prison for a year or 
two, and the judge gives him, perhaps, ten years' 
penal servitude. 

In cases of assassination in England, the clerk 
of the court says to the jury, at the end of their 
sitting : 

" Do you find the prisoner guilty of wilful 
murder ? " 

" Certainly he is guilty of killing, but in a moment 
of jealousy, perhaps. His wife deceived him, and he 
killed the wretch who dishonoured him." 

" You have nothing to do with all that," the 
English jury is told ; " you are merely to say 
whether the prisoner at the bar has done wilful 
murder." 

And the jury, forced to say Yes, are obliged to 
send to the gibbet a man whom in their hearts they 
may respect. They are forced to condemn to death a 
miserable fellow-creature, maddened by misfortune, 
just as they do an assassin who has committed a 
long-planned murder of his neighbour for money. 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



183 



The American juries not only decide the question 
of a prisoner's culpability or innocence, but they 
themselves pronounce sentence. 

" We find," they say, " that the prisoner is guilty 
of such and such a crime in the first degree, or in 
the second degree, etc., and we therefore sentence 
him to such and such punishment." 

Something which is much to be blamed is the 
procrastination of American justice. By going the 
right way to work, a condemned criminal may often 
succeed in getting his case to be tried again and 
again. 

In cases of murder, what good can it do to keep 
a poor wretch, that it is decided to hang, in prison 
for a year or more ? It is adding torture to death 
penalty. 

If that were only all. 

Jonathan is such a philanthropist that he with 
difficulty makes up his mind to execute a fellow- 
creature even legally. So, when he has kept a 
year in prison a criminal, whom he is at last forced 
to hang, he leads him to the scaffold, puts a rope 
round his neck, jerks him up in the air, and 
manages to take twelve or sixteen minutes dis- 
patching him. 

This is philanthropy with a vengeance, and it is 
to be hoped that execution by electricity, which has 
just been adopted by the Governor of New York 
State, will put an end to such sickening pro- 
ceedings. 



184 Jonathan and his Continent, 



It is to be hoped, also, that the Americans will 
some day do better than that. I, for my part, do 
not doubt that they will abolish death sentences 
before very long. They are too intelligent not to 
understand that the death sentence deters no crimi- 
nal, and this for a very simple reason. A crime is 
committed under the impulse of passion, or it has 
been premeditated. In the first case, the criminal 
never thinks of the punishment to come, he is blinded 
by passion ; in the second, he always believes he has 
planned his crime in such a manner as not to be 
found out. 

To lighten this rather lugubrious subject, I will 
terminate with a little anecdote, which has never 
seen the light, and which I think is too delightfully 
humorous and pathetic to be allowed to remain 
unpublished. 

The scene was the smoking-room of the Savage 
Club. 

A notorious criminal had been hanged in the 
morning. Several members of the club were talking 
of the affair, and each one described what his feel- 
ings would be if he were led to the scaffold to be 
hanged. 

During this conversation, an actor, well known, 
but to whom managers, I scarcely know why, never 
entrust any but secondary parts, sat silent in an arm- 
chair, sending up long puffs of smoke soaring to the 
ceiling. 

"Hello, there is N., who has not given his 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



185 



opinion," said one of the group, suddenly noticing 
the actor : " I say, N., tell us how you would feel if 
you were being led to the scaffold." 

The actor raised his eyes to the ceiling and, after 
another puff at his cigar, said quietly : 

"Well, boys, I should feel that at last I was 
trusted with a leading part." 



i86 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



CHAPTER XXVI. 

Lynch Law. — Hanged, Burned, and Shot. — The Gaolers do 
not A nswer for their Boarders. — The Humours of Lynching. 

^"^YNCH law is a summary justice which, 
IB in certain of the United States, is con- 

*W 4 stantly being dealt out to criminals who, 
• ^ * either from the insufficiency of the 
ordinary laws, or because of the absence of a judi- 
cial authority in the neighbourhood, might escape 
punishment. Not the least semblance of a trial, or 
even of examination, as a rule : the populace has 
taken it into its head that a certain individual is 
guilty of a crime, that suffices ; he is sought out, 
torn from his family if he have one, led to the spot 
fixed upon for his execution, and there, without 
questioning or shrift, he is hanged, burned, or shot, 
according to the fancy of his executioners. Some- 
times the criminal is in prison ; but the process of 
the law is slow and uncertain, and the people fear 
that he may escape justice. Again, there may be a 
chance of the malefactor convincing the jury that he 
is innocent ; this does not suit the humour of the 
enraged populace. They attack the prison, and 
demand that their prey be delivered over to them. 
If the governor of the prison refuses, the doors are 
burst open, and the prisoner is seized and forthwith 
led to execution. 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



187 



It is to be hoped, for the credit of American civil- 
isation, that this blot will soon be removed. 

The word " Lynch " is derived from a proper 
name. John Lynch, a colonist of Carolina in the 
17th century, was invested by his fellow-citizens with 
discretionary power to deal summarily with the social 
disorders inseparable from the growth of a colony. 
This measure was soon adopted in several other 
States of America for a similar reason. 

The victims of Lynch law, innocent or guilty, are 
numerous. Before I went to America, I had no idea 
how numerous. Almost every day you may read in 
the American newspapers some horrible tale, such 
as the following : 

"The village of Pemberton Ferry, in Florida, 
has just been plunged into the highest state of ex- 
citement by a horrible drama. 

"Three negroes made their appearance at the 
house of a lady much respected in the neighbour- 
hood, and asked most obsequiously for a drink. 
Finding that she was alone with her daughter, the 
three scoundrels ' burked ' the poor women and 
outraged them. 

"As soon as the crime became known, several 
inhabitants of Pemberton armed themselves, and 
set out in search of the criminals. After searching 
several hours in the neighbouring woods, the aveng- 
ing band came across two suspicious-looking negroes 
in hiding. They were seized upon at once, led to a 
tree, and hanged to it. Then, with a view to ex- 
tracting from them a confession of guilt, the aven- 



i88 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



gers unhanged them. After having protested their 
innocence for some time, the two negroes at last 
confessed themselves guilty. 

" This carried the indignation of the Pemberton 
Ferry people to a state of paroxysm. In less time 
than it takes to describe it, a pile of pine-logs and 
dry branches was made at the foot of the tree and 
set fire to, and the two negroes were again hung, 
this time over the flames. 

" The sight of these wretches, being lynched with 
such refinement of torture, was horrible to behold. 
Soon the executioners themselves, in spite of their 
rage and fury, could no longer bear the sight, and, 
taking pity on their victims, shot them to put an end 
to their sufferings. The two corpses were left hang- 
ing to the tree, to serve as warning." 

The paper adds : 

" The third negro has not yet been discovered ; 
but, if he is caught, he will probably be lynched 
also." 

Here, then, we have two wretched creatures, first 
hung, then unhung, and invited to confess. They 
are not confronted with their victims, who, however, 
could not have been at a great distance. They are 
rehung, burnt over a slow fire, and at last shot. 
This is pure savagedom. 

When the operation of lynching is practised spon- 
taneously, under the influence of excitement caused 
by the atrocity of such a crime as that committed 
by the three negroes, and without any refinement of 



Jonathan and his Continent, 



189 



torture, it is, of course, comprehensible in a young 
society, though not excusable. But that poor 
wretches, accused of some crime, and whose inno- 
cence or culpability must soon be pronounced by a 
jury, should be dragged from prison by the populace, 
and executed with perfect impunity, — this is some- 
thing which surpasses comprehension, even in a 
country where one is apt to be surprised at nothing. 

And this is not all. 

Lynch law has its humours, as the Westerners 
express it in the cynical language which is so natural 
to them : it is when there has been a mistake made 
— in the victim, and the whole thing has to be gone 
over again, because the wrong man has been lynched. 

Again I leave an American newspaper, the Chicago 
Herald, to speak : 

" The little town of St. Helens is in a ferment. 
A party of lynchers entered it this morning, and 
went straight to the house of Mrs. Williams to 
apprise her that her husband had been lynched by 
mistake during the night. After having expressed 
their regrets, the men left to go in search of the 
real culprit. We do not attempt to describe the 
anguish of the poor woman. It is feared she will 
lose her reason." 

This took place in the year of disgrace 1888. 

Lynch law has often had salutary results. 
In the days of the " Gold fever," in California, 
San Francisco was overrun by scoundrelism of the 



igo 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



most virulent type. Twice was the infant city re- 
duced to ashes by incendiary hands. Then the 
leading citizens rose in their wrath, banded them- 
selves together in the name of a Vigilance Committee, 
and soon, from every available lamp-post, dangled 
the body of a ruffian. By such treatment was the 
city purged of crime. 

A few years since an Irish agitator named Kearney 
preached the gospel of dynamite and the spoliation of 
the rich, on an open space, known as Sand Lots. 
As vast crowds assembled to listen to this incendiary 
doctrine, a new Vigilance Committee was formed, 
comprising all the leading bankers, merchants, and 
professional men. A polite note was sent to Mr. 
Kearney that if he ventured to speak again on the 
Sand Lots, he would be most accurately strung up 
there and then. Whereupon the Irish gentleman 
disappeared into space, and his present address is 
unknown. 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



igi 



CHAPTER XXVII. 

A Word on Marriage and Divorce. — Scenes for an Opera- 
Bouffe. — An Amateur Dentist. 

S I have said elsewhere, each State of 
the Union makes its own laws. The 
result is, that a thing which is legal in 
one State is not necessarily legal in 
the others. 

The most curious, and those which differ most, 
are the laws upon marriage and divorce. 

If it is easy to get married in the United States, 
it is still more easy to get unmarried. 

In the State of New York, for instance, if you go 
to a hotel with a woman, and inscribe Mr. and Mrs. 
so and so on the register, the Law looks upon you as 
legally married to that woman, but the marriage is 
not recognised as valid in some other States. To 
obtain a divorce in the State of New York, you must 
prove infidelity on the part of your wife ; but just 
across the Hudson, in the State of New Jersey, it 
is to be obtained on a proof of cruelty or incompat- 
ibility of character. If this is not easy enough for 
you, take the train to Chicago, where divorce is to 
be had for the asking almost. 

The Court of Divorce in Chicago, called by the 
Americans the " divorce mill," decided 681 cases 
during the year 1887. 

This institution is just as flourishing in the State 




IQ2 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



of Indiana as in Illinois. The Easterners jokingly 
pretend that, as the train rolls into the capital of 
Indiana, the porters cry out : " Indianopolis — twenty 
minutes for divorce!" so that couples who may have 
fallen out on the journey can part company for good. 

Does the husband snore, or chew; has he dis- 
agreeable breath, or a clumsy manner of kissing his 
wife ? does that lady wear false hair, give her tongue 
too free play, or habitually take up the newspaper as 
soon as her husband shows signs of dropping into 
sentiment ? all these offences are serious ones before 
the aforesaid tribunals. 

Without troubling to go and settle in Utah, an 
American may set up a seraglio of legitimate wives. 
Each lawful spouse might be a concubine outside 
the State she was married in ; but by carefully study- 
ing the laws of the different States, Jonathan could, 
if he pleased, indulge in polygamy without fear of 
being prosecuted for it. 

I have read in American papers divorce cases 
that were really very comic. 

When a will has to be administered, matters 
often become very mixed up, as you may easily 
imagine. Who are the legitimate children ? which 
are the bastards ? 

Of course all these confusions make work for the 
men of law, who naturally think American legislation 
the finest in the world. 

The city of Chicago alone possesses seventeen 
hundred and sixty-eight lawyers, all thriving. 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



*93 



What a capital subject for an opera-bouffe might 
be got from some of those Chicago divorce cases ! 
What merry quid pro quos ! What amusing scenes ! 
Choruses of lawyers ; choruses of lawful wives, with 
the refrain : 

" We are Mrs. Jonathan, tra la !'* 

The facility of marriage and divorce is comic, 
but it has its tragic side too. 

There exist scoundrels, in America, who make a 
speculation of marriage. 

One constantly hears of some poor girl having 
been persuaded into marrying an individual, who 
deserted her a few days after the ceremony. Her 
trinkets and little savings go with the absconding 
husband, needless to say. 

Why seduce? says the scamp; it is much easier 
to marry the girl. 

The forsaken one may console herself with the 
reflection that all is lost save honour. 

It is certainly a consolation. 

While I was in Michigan, the Detroit detectives 
were in search of a man who was claimed by seven- 
teen wives, all lawful, robbed, and abandoned. 

I extract from a Chicago paper the following 
evidence, full of originality and humour. The 
plaintiff is at the bar, being examined : 

"What is your husband's occupation?" asked 
counsel. 

" Habitual drunkenness, sir." 

" I refer to your husband's profession." 



i 9 4 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



" He made cigars." 
" Good cigars ? " 
" Occasionally." 

" Had not your husband any other profession ? 
Did he not practise as a dentist ? " 
" Not professionally." 

" Now, did not your husband extract six of your 
teeth ? " 

The plaintiff glanced timidly round to see if her 
husband was within hearing, and timidly said : 
(< He did." 

" Did he administer gas, or ether, or any anaes- 
thetics ? " 
" No, sir." 

" Did he extract the teeth one after the other ? " 
"No, all together." 

" Had your husband a license to practise as a 
dentist ? " 

" N ot that I know of. One day he said to me : 
' I will allow you a dollar a day. Bring me the 
accounts every week ; and if ever I find a cent 
missing, I will knock your teeth out.' " 

" Did he find any deficit in your accounts ?" 

" One Saturday night I could not balance the 
books. I was thirteen cents short. Without a 
word, my husband struck me in the mouth. Six of 
my teeth were knocked out ; I swallowed two." 

" Have you the other four in court ? " 

"Yes, sir." 

And so forth. 

The divorce was granted. 



Jonathan and his Continent. 195 



CHAPTER XXVIII. 

Mr. Gvovev Cleveland, President of the United States. — A 
Public Reception at the White House. — A Private 
Audience. — Why a Yankee Refrained from Accompanying 
Me. — What the President Costs the Nation. — Mrs. 
Cleveland. — Her Popularity. — Life at the White 
House. 

HE President is the most accessible citizen 
of the great Republic of the New World. 

Three times a week, he descends to 
the ground floor drawing-room, and passes 
an hour shaking hands with all who wish to make 
his acquaintance. There cannot be a man in the 
world who does so much hand-shaking as this 
President of the United States. You enter the 
White House at the hour of the public reception, 
as you enter a church at service time. I saw three 
negroes, market women, who had left their baskets 
in the antechamber; all sorts and conditions of men. 
It is the most democratic sight imaginable. Each 
person passes to the front in his turn. 

" I am glad to see you, Mr. President. I hope 
both Mrs. Cleveland and yourself are well." Then 
the next one's turn comes, and so on. 

Thanks to an amiable letter of introduction, 
which our esteemed Minister, M. Roustan, gave me 
for Colonel Lamont, the President's Secretary, I 

14 




196 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



easily obtained a private audience of Mr. Grover 
Cleveland. 

Mr. Cleveland is a man of about fifty, tall, portly, 
powerful-looking, with quiet force and resolution 
written in every line of his face and figure. As you 
look at him, you say to yourself, " Here is a man 
with a cool head, and a pretty clear insight into 
human nature." His face is pleasant, has a sympa- 
thetic smile, and a kind look in the keen eyes. His 
bearing is full of natural dignity, without the least 
suspicion of haughtiness, and you are at your ease 
with him at once. The President is a born helm- 
holder : a man with steady nerves, and a clear cool 
brain ; withal a captain who has worked his way up 
from before the mast by indomitable energy and 
plodding. 

In the ten minutes that our interview lasted, he 
managed to say many amiable things of France, and 
was most cordial in wishing me a pleasant sojourn 
in the States. I left the library, where the President 
had received me, greatly impressed with the sim- 
plicity with which things are done at the White 
House. It was a revelation. Here was the chief of 
executive power, the Sovereign, so to speak, of a 
great people, certainly of the greatest nation of the 
future, receiving without more ceremony than the 
plainest private individual. And I thought of the 
kind of reception an ordinary English ratepayer 
would meet with, who would take the liberty of 
asking for an interview with one of the legion of 
German princelings to whom John Bull gives out- 



Jonathan and his Continent, 



197 



door relief. The very lacquey at the door would 
wonder how far the audacity of the common herd 
can go. 

After my interview, a little incident occurred, 
which was, I thought, very American. I had gone 
to the White House with an American gentleman, 
who sat in the carriage we had driven in, while 
I went to present my respects to Mr. Grover 
Cleveland. 

" Why did you not come up and see the President 
with me?" I asked when I rejoined him. 

" Why ? " he said ; " simply because I pay the 
President to work and not to talk. Is it likely I 
should go and disturb him ? It is quite enough for 
him to have to spend time over the visitors to 
Washington." 

In truth, the President is paid to work. 

His pay is 50,000 dollars, about £10,000 a year, 
and all the expenses of the White House come out 
of his pocket. Mr. Cleveland works from twelve to 
fourteen hours a day. He is the most active and 
hard-working man of a hard-working nation. For 
the enormous amount of work he undertakes, the 
President of the United States costs Jonathan half 
the sum of money John Bull pays the Viceroy of 
Ireland to open a few bazaars, and imprison a few 
Irish patriots. No king, no queen, no princes, no 
dukes, no chamberlains, no palace watch-dogs of 
any kind. 

Happy country whose executive power costs 
her but a few thousand pounds, and whose rulers 

14 * 



ig8 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



are recruited from the intelligent plodders of the 
nation ! 

Mr. Cleveland, already respected and looked up 
to, three years ago, for his talents, his zeal, and his 
integrity, has seen his popularity grow greater every 
day since he united his destiny with that of the most 
charming of America's daughters. 

Mrs. Cleveland is a lady of scarcely five-and- 
twenty summers, whose beauty has been so often 
described that it would be tedious to dwell longer on 
the subject. She is lovely, simply lovely. Whether 
Republicans or Democrats, all the Americans look 
upon Mrs. Cleveland with the eyes of the President. 

I remember having one day seen, in a comic, 
paper, a caricature representing Mrs Cleveland 
bringing back her husband on her shoulders to the 
White House. A caricature has no value, except 
when founded upon reality. At this time, everyone 
was unanimous in saying that, if Mr. Cleveland were 
re-elected President, he would in a large measure 
owe the honour to his wife. 

Send a President home to his own fireside, is a 
thing the Americans do, with few exceptions, every 
four years ; but send away from the White House a 
pretty woman who, for three years, has done the 
honours of it with as much tact as grace, — trie 
Americans are gallant, and had to think twice about 
doing that. Many an American threw a ' ' Cleveland " 
into the electoral urn for the sake of tb.Q, bright eyes, 
of the pretty Presidents 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



igg 



The manner in which Mrs. Cleveland has filled 
the position of mistress of the White House was 
constantly being spoken of with glowing praise, in 
newspapers and in private circles, during my stay in 
America. In truth, it is no small thing for a young 
woman of twenty-two, with no special education or 
training for such a position, to be able, from the 
first day she stands, if not " in the fierce light that 
beats about a throne," yet in a glare of publicity, to 
display such tact and charm as to win praise from 
every tongue. 

But the way in which Mrs. Cleveland has filled 
the position of first lady of the land is an illustration 
of the remarkable adaptibility of American women 
generally. In this, Jonathan's daughters resemble 
the women of my own country. This inborn talent 
does not only exist in good society, but even among 
the lower-middle classes. Put a little French 
seamstress in a drawing-room full of well-bred 
people, and at the end of an hour, in her walk, and 
talk, and behaviour, you will not know her from a. 
lady. In the Americans and French there is 
suppleness. The English keep the marks of the 
mould their childhood is formed in, and with 
difficulty take other impressions. 

The White House is a two-storied mansion,, 
very unpretentious, standing in pretty grounds. It 
is as simple within as without ; not the abode of 
luxury and display, but the abode of work. 

Life at the White House is very homely. 



200 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



Breakfast is served at nine, and generally consists 
of half a dozen dishes, such as any American with a 
sound appetite would order at a good hotel. The 
President takes coffee with his morning meal, while 
the young mistress of the house prefers tea. 

At half-past one the President returns from the 
Capitol, where he has passed four hours hard at 
work, and luncheon is served. A dish of game or 
poultry, ham, pastry, such is generally the bill of fare. 

On Sundays, luncheon is a cold repast, and served 
in the simplest and quickest way, so as to give the 
servants as much free time and as little work as 
possible. 

Dinner is served at half-past six, and usually lasts 
but half an hour. The President drinks wine, but 
sparingly, and Mrs. Cleveland never touches any- 
thing stronger than Apollinaris water. 

The steward buys what he thinks will please the 
palates of the master and mistress of the Executive 
Mansion, but has no orders. He has to cater for 
easily-pleased tastes, and the bill of fare invariably 
gives satisfaction. 

Whether guests are present or not, the President 
is served first. Perhaps Louis XIV. might have 
refused to be served before the ladies ; but Mr. 
Cleveland has so many qualities which the grand 
monarque did not possess, that it would be very 
ungenerous indeed to dwell on such an insignificant 
detail. After all, it is not Mr. Cleveland that is 
served first, but the first magistrate of America. 
The politeness is one done to the nation. 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



201 



Mrs. Cleveland calls her husband " Mr. President." 
Her own name is Frances Folsom, which, it is said, 
her husband shortens into " Frank " in private. 
There appears to be no etiquette established on this 
subject. Martha Washington called the founder of 
the great American Republic " General." Mrs. 
Hayes called the President " Mr. Hayes," whilst 
Mrs. Lincoln and Mrs. Garfield called their respective 
husbands "Abram" and "Jim." 



202 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



CHAPTER XXIX. 



Politics. — Parties. — The Gentleman and the Politician. — 
"Honest John" and " Jolly Roger." — The Irish in 
America. — Why the Americans are in Favour of Home 
Ride. — The Mayor of New York and the Green Flag. — 
The German Yankees. — The American Constitution and the 
President. — Executive and Legislative Powers. — England 
is a Freer Country than America. — The Elections. — An 
Anecdote of M. Jules Grevy. 

3^N America the pursuit of politics is a liberal 
▲9 profession — very liberal for those who take 
it up. 
™ In America, as in England, there are 
two great political parties ; instead of being called 
Conservatives and Liberals, they are called Re- 
publicans and Democrats. The difference which 
exists between these parties is this : One is in 
power, and tries to stay in; the other is out, and 
tries to get in. 

All that is done by the one is condemned in 
advance by the other, whichever the other may be. 
It is parti-otism. 

Good society keeps prudently aloof from politics 
and politicians. When a servant announces a poli- 
tician, his master whispers in his ear : " John, lock 
up the plate, and take care there is nothing lying 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



203 



about."* John, faithful to orders, stands sentinel in 
the hall, and, while he is showing out the politician, 
keeps an eye on the umbrellas and overcoats. 

For that matter, the American democracy is no 
exception to the rule. To become a chemist, you 
must study chemistry ; to become a lawyer, you must 
study law; but, in a democracy, to be a politician you 
need only study your interests. Enlightened, edu- 
cated, well-bred Americans have no desire to be con- 
founded with the heroes of the Stump, and stand back; 
the rich financiers and merchants are too busy to take 
up politics ; the senators and congressmen are more 
or less the chosen of the common people, and good so- 
ciety says: "No, thank you; I prefer to stay at home." 
Thus it is that the ground remains clear for the 
noisy mediocrities, and that a gentleman has only to 
mix himself up in politics to become a declasse. He 
must reach the White House to inspire a little 
respect. The American gentleman has not the least 
ambition to see his fair name dragged in the mud ; 
to hear himself called "thief," or nicknamed "Honest 
John," "Jolly Roger," or what not. He takes a 
joke as well as another; but if you were to call him 
" Senator " or " Congressman," he would have you 
up for defamation of character. The President 
himself, capable and upright as he is, does not 
altogether escape the contempt which the politician 
inspires in the man of refinement. 

When I was asked, in America, what celebrities 

* I once made this statement before a London audience. An 
Englishman was heard to remark to his neighbour: " Is this a fact 
I wonder ? 1 ' 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



I had met, I generally answered : " First of all, I 
have had the honour of paying my respects to 
your President." I invariably missed my effect. 
"Ah, really! " people would say — "but, there, you 
are a foreigner." This was an excuse, I suppose; for 
the Americans did not shut their doors upon me. 

Contemporary America is governed by the Irish. 

The Germans, the Scandinavians, all those crowds 
of foreigners that, year by year, flock to the New 
World to find a livelihood, and which America 
gradually assimilates, go West to fell forests and re- 
claim the land. But the Irish pitch their tents, for 
the most part, in the large cities, where they congre- 
gate together and turn their attention to politics. 
The city of New York, for instance, which has been 
successively conquered by the Dutch, the English, 
and the Yankees, is to-day in the hands of the Irish. 
New York is the real capital of Ireland. 

I was in America on the 17th of March, St. 
Patrick's Day. I remember that the Irish demanded 
to have the day officially celebrated in New York, 
and the Mayor was requested to hoist the green flag 
over the City Hall. This gentleman, for refusing to 
comply, was next day pronounced a " false patriot " 
and a " traitor." 

The English are always wondering why Americans 
all seem to be in favour of Home Rule, and ready to 
back up the cause with their dollars. Why ? I will 
tell you. Because they are in hopes that, when the 
Irish get Ireland, they will all go home. 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



205 



I, too, would like to see the Irish in possession of 
Ireland, but for other reasons. First and chiefly, 
because they are good patriots, and, though in a 
foreign land, even naturalized Americans, they do 
not forget their beloved country. Americans though 
they be in their new home, they yet remain Irish. 
They give their allegiance to America; but their 
hearts remain true to Ireland. 

What a contrast to the Germans whom you find 
in the United States ! These forget their mother- 
tongue, and their children do not speak it. They 
abuse their country. 

Wherever the German settles he becomes " native." 
He is not a colonizer : he adopts at the outset the 
customs, creed, and language of his new Fatherland : 
I believe he would become a nigger in Africa. But 
this has always been his wont. When the Germanic 
hordes invaded Gaul in the fifth century, they became 
Gauls in a very little time : spoke Latin, and, thanks 
be, only left in our language about five hundred 
words of Teutonic origin. 

How can one help wishing that they may one 
day return to their country, those Irish, who, a 
thousand leagues from Ireland, remain Irish still ? 
How can one help loving them, those brave sons of 
Erin, so amiable and witty ? 

I have many times been asked why, having 
written on the subject of England and Scotland, I 
had no intention of publishing my impressions of the 
Irish. 

My answer is this : in speaking of a people, I 



206 



Jonathan and his Continent, 



like to touch on their pet transgressions, their faults 
and weaknesses, and I have never been able to find 
any in the Irish. 

You will understand now why I would not risk 
the little reputation I may have made, and write of 
the Irish. 

Upon the strength of a six months' sojourn in 
America, one would hardly attempt to deliver a 
verdict on the political system of the country. 

I think, however, that it may safely be affirmed 
that the English are a freer people than the Ameri- 
cans ; that the constitutional — I had almost said 
republican — monarchy of England is preferable to 
the authoritative democracy of America. 

The American Constitution was copied from that 
of the England of 1776, and the President of the 
United States was invested with a power about 
equal to that of George III. Since that date the 
English have advanced, but the Americans have not. 
Now, in these cases, not to advance is to go back. 
The English of the year of grace 1888 would soon 
give their queen notice to quit, if she took it into her 
head to ask for power equal to that possessed by the 
President of the United States : it would take less 
time, perhaps, than the Americans would need to get 
rid of a troublesome President. 

For four years the Americans are at the mercy of 
their chief representatives. Scarcely have the latter 
gone through their apprenticeship in the science of 
politics and government, when they have to go home. 



Jonathan and his Continent, 



207 



The consequence is, that there are but novices : 
politicians, but no statesmen. These small politicians 
excite the interest of the public so little, that the 
American newspapers furnish their readers with many 
more details about what is said at Westminster, at 
the Palais Bourbon, and at the Reichstag, than about 
what is being done at the Capitol in Washington. 

Reforms are constantly talked of in America, but 
how obtain them ? Public opinion has but a secondary 
influence upon the Government. The English would 
obtain a constitutional reform in much less time than 
the Americans. In England, all officials are the 
servants of the public; in America, they are their 
masters. The English Parliament is constantly 
influenced by public opinion ; the American Congress 
is not so influenced at all, and the people's represen- 
tatives rarely give account to their electors of the 
way in which they have acquitted themselves of their 
charge. 

There is not one out of a thousand educated 
Americans, there is not one honest newspaper, that 
does not demand the immediate passing of the 
Copyright Bill ; yet Congress turns a deaf ear to the 
wishes of the people with perfect impunity. This is 
one example among a hundred. 

During four years the President has almost carte 
blanche. He can declare war and stop legislation. 
Mr. Glover Cleveland has already vetoed 120 bills. An 
authoritative democracy like this seems to present all 
the dangers of an absolute monarchy, without possess- 
ing, as a compensation, the advantages of fixity. 



208 



Jonathan and his Continent, 



The position of this President is very curious. 
Imagine to yourself a king who, after four years' 
service, disappears into the obscurity of private life, 
is no more heard of than a late Lord Mayor unless 
he has been assassinated, and whose very features 
are forgotten, unless they have been perpetuated 
upon dollar bills and postage stamps. 

The Presidential election, which takes place every 
fourth year, is the most feverish phase of the feverish 
American life. The whole nation becomes delirious. 
Several months before the day fixed, every mind is 
preoccupied with but one thing, the election. The 
newspapers are full of it ; conversation has no other 
subject. Passions are let loose ; intrigues are on 
foot ; the most odious calumnies are circulated ; 
men stop at nothing that may give the victory to 
their party. For three or four weeks prior to the 
election, the country is given over to processions, 
meetings, banners, stump speeches, torch-light 
marches. As soon as Fate has decided between the 
candidates, calm is restored, the fray ceases, arms 
are extended only in hand-shakings, the vanquished 
accept their defeat with as much bravery as they had 
displayed in the struggle, and everyone goes once 
more about his business. 

The United States well deserve their name. The 
Union is a true and firm one. It reposes on content- 
ment. It is composed of over thirty republics, 
republics in Republica. Each State has its governor 
and its two Houses of Legislature ; that is to say, 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



209 



each governs itself in its own fashion. For instance, 
in certain States you cannot obtain a divorce except 
from an unfaithful wife ; in another, you can obtain 
it by proving that your wife habitually has your 
chops served overdone. In one State, the law does 
not punish drunkenness as an offence ; in another, 
the sale of alcoholic drinks is completely interdicted. 
The American States, all managing their own local 
government as they each see fit, live in perfect 
harmony one with another. That which makes the 
strength of America is, that everyone seems satisfied 
with the form of government. 

I said just now that America possessed no great 
political orator or statesman, and that what went 
on at Washington scarcely awoke any interest in the 
people ; but are not great political orators generally 
evoked by great public wrongs ? Are not also 
sometimes great public wrongs evoked by great 
political orators ? And when a nation lives in 
happiness and complete security, must not its politics 
necessarily be uninteresting? Happy the nation 
whose politics do not furnish the foreign press with 
sensational news ! 

I said also that I considered the people of England 
freer than the people of America. This demands an 
explanation. In advancing such an opinion, I mean 
to say that the English exercise more influence over 
the Government than do the Americans, and that 
they invest the agents of authority with much 
smaller powers. An American policeman, for in 



210 



Jonathan and his Continent, 



stance, is endowed with an authority which he can 
with impunity use in tyrannous fashion. The English 
policeman is the servant of the public ; is responsible 
before the public for his acts ; may be given in charge 
on the spot if he insults or roughly handles you ; 
and may be prosecuted for making a false accusation 
against you. 

Bureaucracy is much more tyrannical in America 
than in England. You meet at every turn with a 
man who lets you know that he has "certain in- 
structions to carry out." You soon know what 
that means in a country where there are avec le del 
des accommodements. You get out of the difficulty by 
the aid of that irresistible argument, named "the 
dollar." In the trains, for instance, I have known 
the conductor refuse me permission to occupy a 
vacant bed by the side of my own, and which pleased 
me better than the one that had been assigned to 
me. "Your ticket bears a certain number, and I 
can't change it ; I must carry out instructions." 
Useless to try and make him understand that the 
bed, being disengaged, it matters little to the com- 
pany whether you occupy it or not. Orders must be 
obeyed. You pull a half-dollar piece out of your 
pocket, and the difficulty is surmounted. Regulations 
only come into existence to be trampled on as 
occasion requires. 

The English have the habit of making themselves 
at home everywhere, but, above all, in places where 
they pay. Nothing is so repugnant to them as those 
thousand and one little tyrannies that go by the 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



211 



names of regulations, restrictions, rules, by-laws, 
etc. If you would be unhampered by such, if you 
would enjoy perfect freedom, live in England. 

No one doubts that England is the freest country 
on earth, not even our staunchest French republicans. 

A few months before his election to the presidency 
of the French Republic, M. Jules Grevy was present 
one evening at a political dinner in the beautiful 
mansion of the Vicomtesse de Rainneville. At this 
epoch, things scarcely seemed to point to the future 
elevation of M. Grevy; and as M. de Grandlieu, 
who told the anecdote in the Figaro, maliciously said, 
if the Orleans Princes had displayed a little more 
resolution, M. Grevy would probably never have 
known any other palace than the one in which his 
pleadings failed to awaken the judges. 

After dinner, in the elegant smoking-room, one of 
the guests drew M. Grevy aside, and said to him : 

"Well, sir, seeing the turn things are taking, 
have you not enough of the Republic ? " 

"On the contrary, I have just returned from a 
country where I have learned to appreciate it more." 

" Where is it you have been ? to Switzerland? " 

" No, a little further." 

" Not America ? " 

"Oh, no." 

" In what country can you have strengthened so 
much your Republican ideas ? " 

" I have just returned from England ! " replied 
M. Grevy. 

15 



212 



Jonathan and his Continent. 




CHAPTER XXX. 

The Ordinary American. — His Voice, his Habits, his Conver- 
sation. — He Murders his Language and your Ears. — Do 
not judge him too quickly. 

OTHING is ordinary in America. 
Ifft'jm The ordinary American himselt is 
extraordinarily ordinary. 

He takes liberties with his fellow- 
creatures, and with the English grammar. He 
murders your ears, and the mother - tongue of 
Shakespeare. He chews, hawks, and spits; but he 
has a certain good-humoured brag and liveliness 
about him which invite further acquaintance. 

His fingers, cravat, and shirt-front sparkle with 
diamonds. 

In conversation, he attacks all subjects imagin- 
able with complete assurance. He talks tall, and 
through the nose. He does not raise his voice 
much. He buzzes rather than speaks : at a certain 
distance you think you hear the droning of bag- 
pipes. 

Meeting you in a railway-carriage, he will ask 
you point-blank where you are going, what you are 
doing, and where you come from. By degrees he 
grows bolder, and, if the fancy takes him, he will 
touch the cloth of your coat, and ask you, " What 
did you give for that ? " He has not the least inten- 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



213 



tion of being disagreeable. This is not an act of 
rudeness, but one of good fellowship. He, on his 
part, will give you all the information you care to 
have about himself. He takes it for granted that 
you are as inquisitive as he is, and he is ready to 
satisfy your curiosity. He is obliging. 

This man, whom you began by taking for some 
ignorant babbler, presently gives to his conversation 
a turn that astonishes you. He speaks to you of 
France in a way which shows you that he is conver- 
sant with all that is going on there. The sayings 
and doings of General " Bolangere " are familiar to 
him. He knows the names of the chief members of 
the Ministry. He is interested in M. Pasteur's re- 
searches ; he has read a review of M. Renan's last 
book, and of M. Sardou's latest play. He has judi- 
cious remarks to make upon literature. He knows 
his Shakespeare, as not one Frenchman of his class 
knows Corneille, Racine, Moliere, or Victor Hugo. 
You discover that he is well-read, this man who 
says I come for I came, you was, you didn't ought, I 
don't know as I do, etc. He can give you information 
about his country as useful as it is exact. 

He talks politics — even foreign politics — like a 
man of sense. He is far more enlightened on the 
Irish question than most people are in England. 
The ordinary Englishman is Conservative or Liberal 
without knowing very well why — generally because 
his father was, or is, the one or the other. Ask him 
why the Irish have been complaining for centuries 
of the way the English govern them, he can rarely 

15 * 



214 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



give you anything but commonplaces in reply: "We 
conquered them, they ought to obey us;" or, "We 
cannot allow the Irish to dismember the United 
Kingdom," as if unity did not consist in living in 
harmony, as if the Union of the United States was 
in danger because each State governs itself in its 
own fashion. I must say the ordinary Englishman, 
who is in favour of Home Rule for Ireland, does not 
base his opinion upon arguments more serious or 
more solid: "Mr. Gladstone says it is right;" he 
does not go much deeper than that. Neither knows 
the history of Ireland, or the origin of the land 
tenure in that unhappy country. 

This same American talks theology. He dis- 
cusses the Bible. He reads the writings of Colonel 
Ingersoll, refuting that gentleman's ideas or accept- 
ing his conclusions. 

In a word, you thought you were in the company 
of an ignorant bore of a bagman, and you have had 
one or two hours' talk with an intelligent and inter- 
esting man. 



Jonathan and his Continent, 215 



CHAPTER XXXI. 

American Activity. — Expression of the Faces. — Press the Button, 
S.V.P. — Marketing in the House. — Magic Tables. — The 
Digestive Apparatus in Danger. — Gentlemen of Leisure. — 
Labour Laws. — A Six Days' Journey to go to a Banquet. 
— My Manager cuts out Work for me. — A Journalist on 
a Journey. — "Don't wait dinner, am off to Europe.'" 




HAT which strikes the European most in 
his first walk through New York streets 
is the absence of stupid faces. All are 
not handsome, but all are intelligent- 



looking and full of life. The next thing that strikes 
him is the well-grown look of the people. Few 
or no deformities. He does not see one halt or 
hunchbacked person out of the ten thousand he may 
meet. With the exception of the old people, few 
have defective sight. Apart from the complexion, 
which is pale, everything seems to indicate an active, 
strong, healthy people. The constant crossing of 
races must daily tend to the improving of the Ameri- 
cans, physically and intellectually. 

You see so many thin men and so many stout 
women, that 3^ou almost immediately conclude that 
the former live in a furnace of activity, and the latter 
in cotton-wool. This impression grows upon you, 
and soon takes the form of a conviction. 

The Americans do not walk much. It is not that 



2i6 Jonathan and his Continent. 



they are indolent. Far from it. It is because their 
legs will not carry them fast enough. 

The faces of the men you meet look absorbed in 
thought. Their hats are well down on their heads. 
This, again, is a sign of intelligence. Do not smile. 
The fool perches his hat on his head, the man with 
a well-filled brain puts his head into its covering. 

These same faces are pale, and you see many 
prematurely grey heads. The want of open-air exer- 
cise, the dryness of the atmosphere, the suffocating 
heat of the rooms, the vitiated air in the houses 
which seem to have windows only for the purpose of 
letting in a little light, easily explain this double phe- 
nomenon. 

The women of every country are unanimous — in 
pronouncing the American men handsome; and as 
there are few men who do not think the American 
women lovely, there can be but one opinion on the 
subject : the American race is a good-looking one. 
But that which makes the charm of the men's faces 
is not regularity of feature ; it is, as I have already 
said, the intelligence written on them, the wonderful, 
the amazing activity that animates them. 

This activity you find in all stations of society, in 
the financial world, the literary world, the world of 
politics, everywhere. It is a fever with which the 
whole nation is smitten. 

In the eyes of the worthy, peaceful Frenchman 
who has not travelled, an American is a lunatic who 
does nothing like other people. After all, eccentri- 



Jonathan and his Continent, 



217 



city is but an exaggerated form of activity ; but for 
certain people with narrow ideas, eccentricity and 
madness are but one and the same thing. 

Let us take a little look at Americans at home, 
and see if I was wrong in calling American life pure 
phantasmagoria. 

We will begin by the private houses. 

In a well-appointed house, you will find, in a little 
room on the ground-floor, a plaque fitted with several 
buttons. You touch the first, and immediately a 
cab drives up to your door.* You touch the second, 
and in a minute or two, there appears a messenger 
from the telegraph office to take your telegram or 
carry a parcel or message for you to any part of the 
city. You touch the third, and a policeman presents 
himself, as if by enchantment, to know if you suspect 
the presence of burglars. You touch the fourth, and 
heigh, presto ! up dashes the fire brigade, with engine, 
fire-escape, and the rest of their life-saving apparatus, 
and this in about the length of time that it took 
Cinderella's godmother to turn the pumpkin into a 
coach. 

Jonathan will not stop here. Before long we 
shall see the architects of all first-class houses laying 
on, not only gas, water, the telephone and the elec- 
tric light, but the opera and church service. 

Already the ladies of Chicago do their marketing 
at home. The housekeeper goes to her telephone 
and rings. 

* If you pres3 it twice, it is a two-horse cab that comes. 



218 Jonathan and his Continent. 



" Hello I" responds the central office. 
" Put me in communication with 2438 " — (her 
butcher's number). 

In another instant the bell rings. 

"Hello!" 

"Hello!" 

"Is it the butcher ?" 
"Yes." 

" Send me two pounds of fillet of beef, and a leg 
of mutton, by twelve o'clock." 
" Very good ! Is that all ? " 
"Yes." 
"All right." 

Upon this the lady rings again. 
" Hello ! " from central office, where this kind of 
thing goes on all day long. 

" Send me 1267 " (the fruiterer). 
Again the bell rings. 
"Hello!" 
"Hello!" 

"Is it the fruiterer?" 
"Yes." 

And the scene is repeated — and so on with the 
baker, the grocer, and all the lady's tradespeople. 

We have all seen the wonderful labour-saving, 
time-saving apparatus of American invention which 
has suppressed the cry of " Cash here ! " in most 
large shops in England, as well as America. To 
watch the ball containing your bill and coin drawn 
up, to see it run along one inclined groove, and return 
on another, bringing your change and the bill re- 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



219 



ceipted, is to look on at another piece of American 
legerdemain. 

There is a great effort being made now in New 
York, Chicago, and other towns, to find out a plan 
to accelerate the service in restaurants and do away 
with waiters. It is very simple and the Americans 
will not be baffled for such a small matter. 
This is how the thing is to be done : 
The restaurant is provided with small numbered 
tables. Each table is in direct communication with 
the kitchen by means of rails. Close at hand are a 
certain number of electric buttons upon which the 
customer sees written beef, mutton, chop, vegetables, 
tart, etc. He touches three, four, five buttons, 
according to his appetite, and the cook receives his 
order. 

" Steak and potatoes, tomato, salad, chocolate 
cream, for No. 52 ! . . . All right, ready !" 

In an instant a tray bearing the lunch appears 
upon the table, placed there without hands. When 
the customer has disposed of his food, he touches 
the button marked bill. In a twinkling the bill 
appears on his plate, and the assuaged American 
settles it at the desk as he goes out. The whole 
thing is as simple as bonjour. 

The American complains that it is impossible to 
lunch in less than ten minutes. This evil will be 
remedied shortly. 

If you want a really striking sight, go to one of 
the great restaurants of Chicago or New York at 



220 Jonathan and his Continent. 



lunch time. Those Americans using their knife and 
fork will make your head swim. At a little distance, 
they look as if they were all playing the dulcimer. 

I lunched one day at the Astor House, near the 
heart of the Stock Exchange furnace of New York. 
I was standing at the bar making all the speed pos- 
sible with my food, so as to give place to the crowd 
pressing behind me. All the time I heard such 
remarks as : 

" There 's one that isn't in a hurry ! How much 
longer is he going to be ? Is he going to take an 
hour over his grub ?" 

You eat too fast, my dear Jonathan, and I under- 
stand why your anti-dyspeptic pill makers cover your 
walls with their advertisements. You die young ; and 
you do not live, you burn out. You rush on at ex- 
press speed, in your chase after the dollar, and you 
have not time to look at Happiness, standing with 
open arms at your door. Your very evenings are not 
your own. Hardly have you taken upon your knees 
one of your lovely little ones to kiss and caress, 
hardly have you begun a little love-scene with your 
pretty wife, when, ding, ding, ding, there is the 
telephone going. 

"Hello! Hello!" 

Your wife and children would fain see the tele- 
phone thrown to the winds, for you are a gallant 
husband and a charming father. 

The little French provincial shopkeeper, who 
locks his shop-door, from twelve to one o'clock, 
while he dines with his family, has come nearer than 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



221 



you to solving the problem of life, How to be happy. 
Sharper and Co. may suspend payment, without the 
fact interfering with his digestion. Twice a year 
he goes and takes up his three per cent, dividend on 
the Government Stock. It is petty, perhaps; but 
it is secure, and he can sleep upon both ears. 

Those Americans are never still, never at rest. 
Even when they are sitting they must be on the 
move ; witness the rocking-chair habit. 

No repose for them : their life is perpetual motion, 
a frantic race. 

Opposite my windows, at the Richelieu Hotel in 
Chicago, there was a railway station. Every ten 
minutes the local trains came and went. Each time 
the bell announced the approach of a train, I saw a 
crowd tear along the path of the station, and leap 
into the carriages, taking them by storm. By leaving 
their offices thirty seconds earlier, these good people 
might have walked comfortably to the station and 
saved themselves this breathless chase. 

Go to the Brooklyn Bridge station, New York, 
about five o'clock in the afternoon. There you will 
see a sight very like the storming of a fort. 

An American wrote me one day a note of a few 
lines, and thus excused himself for his brevity : " A 
word in haste — I have hardly time to wink." Poor 
fellow ! only think of it, not even time to wink ; it 
makes one giddy. 

But it must be acknowledged that this feverish 
activity has made America what she is. Yesterday 



222 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



forest and swamp, to-day towns of five, ten thou- 
sand souls, with churches, free libraries, free schools, 
newspapers ; towns where people work, think, read, 
pray, make fortunes, go bankrupt, etc. 

Very few Americans are content to live on their 
private means. There is no leisure class, there are 
no unemployed. Rich and poor, old and young, all 
work. They die in harness, harnessed to the car of 
Mammon. A millionaire on his death-bed says to 
his son : "I leave you my fortune on the express 
condition that you work." General Daniel Butter- 
field expressed the feeling of most American fathers 
when he said on some public occasion : " If I had 
ten sons I would not give them a cent until they 
had learned to earn their own living, though I were 
ten times a millionaire." 

Mr. Whitelaw Reid, editor of the New York 
Tribune, Mr. Madill, of the Chicago Tribune, and 
several other editors I could mention, are million- 
aires. You will invariably find them at their desks 
until one in the morning. They work like simple 
supernumeraries. 

Outside certain Anglo-maniac sets, to be found 
in New York, Boston, and Philadelphia, no one 
boasts of living on his property. 

In England, a man who does nothing goes by the 
name of gentleman ; in Chicago he goes by the name 
of loafer. 

In fifty years' time, when America has two hun- 
dred million inhabitants, perhaps she will impose her 
ideas upon the Old World. Then, maybe, society 



Jonathan and Ms Continent, 



223 



will have no contempt except for the ignorant and 
the idle. 

A young man, with a very intelligent-looking face, 
was pointed out to me one evening, in a Chicago 
drawing-room. 

" He is very rich," said my hostess to me softly. 
" For a year or two after he inherited the property he 
did no work, and people began to rather shun him. 
But he has just gone into partnership with a friend in 
business, and so he is quite reinstated in everyone's 
esteem." 

I know Americans of both sexes who, rather than 
lead an idle life, have taken to the stage. These 
actors and actresses belong to good society, which 
admires them in public and welcomes them in pri- 
vate. Such things do honour to the national spirit, 
and raise the dramatic profession in the eyes of the 
public. Why should not all actresses be as respected 
and respectable as singers or pianists ? 

Not only is work respectable in America, but in 
certain States it is compulsory. In the State of 
Missouri, for instance, any idle improvident fellow 
who neglects his family or, through shiftless habits, 
is likely to become a burden to the State, may be 
sold at auction to the highest bidder for a term of 
six months. This is a law passed twenty years ago. 
It provides also, that after the vagrant has worked 
out the purchase-money, any other sum earned by 
him, at a fair compensation, is to be applied by his 
purchaser to the payment of his debts, or the main- 



224 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



tenance of his family. If, when he is free again, he 
returns to his bad habits, his fellow-townsmen take 
the law into their own hands. They escort him to 
some public place and flog him; and if that does not 
cure him, his wife runs the risk of seeing him one 
fine day hanging from some neighbouring tree. The 
people will tell you, as the most simple thing in the 
world, that by acting thus they economise the cost 
of a police force. Rather primitive this reason, it 
must be admitted ; but in new societies, idleness is 
a crime, and the bees ought to have a right to drive 
the drones out of the hive. 

Jonathan is but John Bull expanded — John Bull 
with plenty of elbow-room, and nothing astonishes 
him, nothing stops him. 

Distances, he takes no account of : for him they 
do not exist. At the annual dinner of the Clover 
Club, at Philadelphia, seated opposite me was the 
editor of one of the large Chicago newspapers. He 
had come from Chicago to Philadelphia to be present 
at the banquet. After all, it is but a twenty-four 
hours' journey. That's all. I could not help 
making a remark on the subject to my neighbour 
at table. 

"There's nothing at all astonishing about it," 
said he. " You see that bald gentleman with a long 
white beard over there ? Well, he has come from 
San Francisco." 

A piece of canvas-back duck, at that moment in 
my throat, nearly choked me. 



Jonathan and his Continent, 



225 



" Excuse me," I said to my neighbour, " I have 
only been in America three months. ... I shall 
get used to it — I shall get used to it." 

And, indeed, it was very necessary to get used 
to it. 

I was looking one day at the list of engagements 
which my manager had just sent me for the following 
week. To my stupefaction I read : 

" Monday, New York. 

"Tuesday, Youngstown (Ohio). 

" Wednesday, Indianapolis." 

I ran to the office of this imperturbable Yankee, 
and asked him : 

" Is it possible that I can reach these towns, so 
far apart, in time to give my lectures ? " 

" Nothing easier," he replied, seizing the railway 
guide. " Your New York lecture comes off at three 
in the afternoon. At five, you have a train which gets 
to Youngstown by noon next day. There you lecture 
at eight. Pay your bill and send your luggage to the 
station before going to the Academy of Music, where 
you have to speak. As soon as your lecture is over, 
jump into a cab, and you will catch the ten o'clock 
train, which will set you down at Indianapolis in 
time for your next day's engagement." 

"What! go to the train in evening dress?" I 
exclaimed. 

* And why not ? You undress in the sleeping- 
car, I suppose ? " 

" What a life ! " thought I. " These Yankees beat 
everything." 



226 , Jonathan and his Continent. 



Oh, that map of the United States ! If you would 
have any idea of a good lecturing tour in America, 
just imagine yourself appearing in public one day in 
London, the next in Paris, the day after in Berlin, 
then in Vienna, St. Petersburgh, and Constantinople 
to finish up the week. Then take Teheran, and the 
chief cities in Asia, and you have a fair idea of the 
journeys. 

Here is a little scene of American life. It Was 
told me, not only without boast, but as the most 
natural thing in the world, by Mr. L. S. Metcalf, the 
editor of the Forum, one of the most important 
Reviews of New York. 

Mr. Metcalf wished to have an article on the sub- 
ject of the Mormons for his Review : not one of those 
papers written by a man who had passed through 
Utah, but a serious study. For several weeks he 
had been in correspondence with one of the elders of 
the Mormon Church. 

" All this letter-writing does not advance matters 
much," thought Mr. Metcalf to himself one day ; 
"one or two hours' conversation would settle the 
thing." 

Two hours later he was in the train for Salt Lake 
City. He probably reckoned this way : " It is only 
five days' journey in the cars, and what is that when 
one sets against it a good talk in the interest of the 
Review ? " 

Mr. Metcalf set out, arrived, saw, had his chat, 
took the cars again, and came home. 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



227 



" But," I timidly advanced, " what became of the 
Review during all this time ?" 

" Oh, it suffered nothing from my absence," said 
its editor; "I installed myself at the table in the 
library-car, where I was able to carry on my work at 
my ease. When we stopped at the stations, I posted 
my letters, and sent and received telegrams with as 
little difficulty as in New York." 

" But could you really work easily in the train ?" 

" Better, much better, than at my own desk, my 
dear sir; there was no one to come and disturb 
me. 

I was one day relating this conversation to an 
American journalist. 

" You are simply wonderful, you Americans," I 
said to him ; " you would go to the Sandwich Islands 
to fetch news of the king at Honolulu." 

"Just so," he replied — " I have done it." 

This " I have done it " was the finishing touch. 

A New Yorker sets out for San Francisco, as 
Parisians set out for Versailles or Chartres. He 
takes the Liverpool steamer, just as we take the little 
boat for Auteuil, without any more fuss, without any 
more preparation. Do not ask him whether he will 
return by the same line. Perhaps he will take it into 
his head to come home by China and Australia. His 
own country is larger than Europe itself; and France, 
England, Germany, Italy, Spain, even Russia, — all 
these names sound to his ear no more than Ohio, 
Pennsylvania, or any other American State. 

One of my fellow-passengers, on my homeward 
16 



228 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



trip in the Germanic, was a New Yorker, who, on 
the morning of the day the boat was to sail, left 
home without the least intention of crossing the 
Atlantic. Having made up his mind at noon, he 
telegraphed to his wife, " Don't wait dinner, am off 
to Europe," bought a bag and a few necessaries 
for the voyage, and calmly embarked at 3.30 for 
Europe. 

American wives are used to this sort of telegrams, 
and think nothing of it. 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



229 



CHAPTER XXXII. 

The "XlXth Century Club" — Intellectual Activity. — Literary 
Evenings. — L ight Everywhere. 

O show the point to which intellectual 
activity goes in America, I cannot do 
better than speak of the "XlXth Century 
Club." 

Two or three years ago, Mr. Courtlandt Palmer,* 
one of the principal inhabitants of New York — a 
gentleman as rich in intellectual attainments as in 
dollars — conceived the happy idea of inviting his 
friends to meet twice a month in his drawing-room, 
for the purpose of discussing the important questions 
of the day. His invitation was accepted with alac- 
rity ; and thus the club, which consists of lady 
members as well as gentlemen, was formed. 

Nothing is more interesting than these meetings ; 
nothing, at all events, left a deeper or more pleasur- 
able impression upon me than these intellectual 
treats. Papers upon some question — political, scien- 
tific, literary, or artistic — are read, and followed by 
debates. 

The reunions were so much enjoyed that the 
number of the members soon increased rapidly, and 

* It is with deep sorrow that I learn, while writing these lines, 
of the death of Mr. Courtlandt Palmer, to whom I owe many 
charming hours spent in New York. 

16 * 




230 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



it became necessary to hire a public room for their 
accommodation. So great is the present popularity 
of the club, and so great the demand for admission to 
membership, that every few months a larger room is 
needed to hold all these people eager to enlighten 
themselves on the questions of the day which interest 
the thinking world. 

The association proceeds in a manner as simple 
as it is practical. 

Is it decided to pass an evening in discussing 
Socialism, for instance ? The President invites a 
well-known Socialist to come and explain his views 
before the members of the club ; he invites also an 
anti-Socialist of talent to answer him. 

The XlXth Century Club opens its doors, as the 
North A merican Review does its columns, to all new 
ideas anxious to pierce through to the light. 

One evening, last winter, was devoted to the 
discussion of Sectarianism. The President of the 
Club invited a Catholic priest, an Episcopalian and 
a Presbyterian minister, a Unitarian and, unless my 
memory misleads me, an agnostic. All were listened 
to attentively, and each had his harvest of applause. 

Another night, the subject chosen was, " The 
Triumph of Democracy." The first orator, Mr. 
Andrew Carnegie, set forth that everything is for the 
best in that best of Democracies, the American one. 
The second, on the contrary, brought forward much 
eloquence and many figures to prove that the 
governmental system of America was worthless 
and rotten. 



Jonathan and his Continent, 



231 



Mr. Carnegie, having gone from Scotland to 
America with the traditional half-crown in his 
pocket, and, by his talents and industry, become 
one of the richest men in the United States, it was 
quite natural to see him standing up for the American 
institutions, and waxing eloquent over the superiority 
of America to the rest of the world. 

Thanks to their vivacity of mind, the Americans 
have a special talent for making the most arid sub- 
jects interesting. All these debates are enlivened 
with humorous remarks, anecdotes, flashes of wit, 
and clever repartees. Needless to say that they are 
conducted with the utmost courtesy. The most tren- 
chant weapons employed at these tournaments are 
sarcasm and banter, and the Americans are adept in 
the use of both. 

In America, such is the respect for the opinions 
of others, that the wildest, most incongruous, ideas 
did not raise a murmur : the audience would smile 
and seem to say, " What a droll idea ! " and if the 
droll idea was expressed wittily, the orator was 
applauded. 

In the course of a debate upon " International 
Copyright," I remember hearing one American 
calmly express the opinion that authors have no 
right to their own ideas, and that therefore they 
have no right to any remuneration for their work. 
He developed this strange statement with a great 
deal of cleverness, and at the end of his discourse 
was greeted with a round of applause as hearty as it 
was ironical. 



232 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



All this is highly amusing; but, at the same time, 
how edifying and interesting ! 

As soon as the debates are over, the audience 
repair to an adjoining room for refreshments, and to 
criticise the opinions advanced during the evening. 
The meeting turns into a conversazione, or a recep- 
tion, at which the President's wife does the honours. 

I saw nothing more striking during my stay in 
America — nothing which appeared to me more hope- 
ful for the future of the country — than the sight of 
these crowds of four or five hundred people — old 
men and young, young girls and matrons, all in 
fashionable evening dress — met together to learn 
something, and to keep themselves posted up in all 
the new ideas of the day. 

I have heard young ladies read papers of their 
own composition at these meetings, and their dis- 
courses were as clever as those of their gentlemen 
antagonists. 

In New York alone, there exist many other socie- 
ties of the same kind. Among others, I might name 
the " Twilight Club." The members meet twice a 
month for dinner. At dessert, instead of smoking- 
room or boudoir stories, some subject of general 
interest, decided upon by the President of the Club 
at the preceding meeting, is talked over, each mem- 
ber giving separately his own ideas on the subject 
under discussion. For the evening on which I had 
the pleasure of dining with the club, the chosen 
subject was, " Which are the books that have influ- 
enced you ?" The evening at an end, it was decided 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



233 



that the topic for the next meeting should be, " Which 
are the ideas that have helped you ? " 

I might name several other clubs, such as the 
" Drawing-room Club," the " Thursday Club." 

In short, what strikes one is the all-pervading 
activity, the intellectual life led by women of good 
society as well as men. 

Impossible that Truth should hide her face in a 
country where there is such a flood of light. 



234 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



CHAPTER XXXIII. 

Climate Incites Jonathan to Activity. — Healthy Cold. — Why 
Drunkenness is Rave in America. — Do not Lose Sight of 
your Nose. — Advice to the Foreigner intending to Visit 
Jonathan in the Winter. — Visit to the Falls of Niagara. 
— Turkish Baths offered Gratis by Nature. 




T is to the bright, bracing climate of North 
America that the activity, and consequent 
prosperity, of Jonathan is mainly to be 
attributed. 



The dry, invigorating air induces activity, and 
you can do things in America which it would never 
enter your mind to attempt in Europe. 

The cold in winter is excessive, but you do not 
suffer from it ; for my part, I scarcely noticed it. It 
is a kind of cold which does not penetrate, and 
against which it is easy to protect oneself. It is dry, 
healthful, bracing, excites the circulation of the 
blood, and makes one feel full of life. 

The air is charged with ozone and electricity. 
Several times, in touching the heating -pipes and 
gaseliers, I had tiny electric sparks flash from my 
finger-ends. In brushing your hair, you will often 
hear the crackling of the electric sparks produced 
by the friction of the brush. 

The American sky is bright. It is never clouded 
for more than two or three days together. You live 
in a clear, smiling atmosphere, which sheds joy in 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



235 



the heart. It is not wonderful that the Americans 
are so bright and lively. Man, everywhere, is influ- 
enced by the climate in which he lives. 

Stimulants are not needed, water suffices ; and 
few Americans drink anything but water at meal- 
time on ordinary occasions. Alcoholic drinks are 
almost forbidden by the climate. A bottle of wine 
goes to the head sooner in America than half a dozen 
would in England or France. 

When I was in America, though it was winter- 
time (this includes the spring, which only exists in 
American almanacks), I was always thirsty ; the 
dryness of the atmosphere made my tongue con- 
stantly feel like a grater. I quenched my thirst with 
water or an ice. 

Drunkenness is not at all a national vice in 
America. On the contrary, it is rare even among 
the lower classes, and does not exist in the higher. 

When a drunkard is picked up from the gutter, 
the passer-by says, " It is a European just come over." 

I have often admired the sobriety of the Ameri- 
cans at great dinners, which are sometimes prolonged 
to the midnight hour. After dessert, no more wine. 
Bottles of mineral-waters are brought in, and the 
guests moisten their lips with Apollinaris, Vichy, or 
whichever sparkling water they prefer, while smoking 
and talking. 

The air is so dry in the north of the States that, 
when heated at theatres, concerts, and balls, one 



236 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



breathes with difficulty, and it often causes the 
breath to be disagreeable. 

I repeat it, the cold is healthy ; and the foreigner 
who visits America during the winter, only suffers 
from the suffocating heat of the rooms. With fur 
wraps, and the ears well covered, he has nothing to 
fear in the air, unless it be for his nose, which I 
would advise him to keep an eye upon. 

If you go to America for the winter, take only 
autumn and summer costumes. It is not only the 
houses that are heated night and day to a tempera- 
ture of nearly 80 degrees, but it is the trains as well. 
All carriages, cabs, and sleighs are provided with 
rugs and furs, and you have no use for winter clothes. 
In the private houses, hotels, and railways you will 
only be able to bear light clothing. All the winter 
comforts you will need are furs for out of doors. 

The Americans, who cook themselves within 
doors, fear the cold so little when they are in motion 
that, in the States of Illinois, Wisconsin, Ohio, and 
others in the north, when the thermometer is down 
to 30 degrees below zero, they give the preference to 
open carriages. In Chicago, Buffalo, and Milwaukee 
one has almost a difficulty to find a covered sleigh or 
cab to go out in at night. It is the same in Canada. 
In Toronto, Ottowa, Montreal, and Quebec, nothing 
but open sleighs. The driver buries you in furs. 
Your feet and body are warm, and the cold that cuts 
your face seems to help to make your blood circu- 
late, and is quite enjoyable. 

I went to see Niagara Falls (the grandest spec- 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



237 



tacle it was ever given to man to behold) in the early 
part of February. Without suffering from the cold, 
I was able to drive for three hours in an open sleigh 
through thickly snow-laden air. To have the snow 
beating in one's face so long, was not agreeable ; but 
the storm added, if possible, to the grandeur of the 
scenery. On alighting at Prospect House, to take a 
cup of tea before beginning the train journey to 
Buffalo, I took off my wraps, and never have I felt 
such a glowing sense of warmth and life. 

The frequent and very sudden changes of tem- 
perature in winter,* and the great difference between 
the temperature of the houses and that of the outer 
air,t is very trying to the foreigner. 

An American to whom I was complaining of this 
one day, and who would not stand anything like 
criticism of his country, said : 

" My dear sir, those changes are very healthful. 
They stir the blood, quicken circulation, and are as 
good as a Turkish bath." 

* One day in November, 1887, the thermometer stood at 78 in 
Washington. Next day all the puddles in the gutters were frozen, 
and the mercury marked only 17 above zero, making a fall of 61 
degrees in a night ! 

t Whilst the heat kept up within doors varies from 75 to 80 
degrees, the temperature outside may be io, 20, or 30 degrees below 
zero. What a Turkish bath, indeed I 



2 3 8 



jfcnathan and his Continent. 



CHAPTER XXXIV. 

Jonathan's Eccentricities. — The Ave de Triomphe not being 
Hirable, an American proposes to Buy it. — The Town 
Council of Paris do not Close with Him. — Cathedrals on 
Hire. — Companies Insuring against Matrimonial Infidelity. 
— Harmony Association. — Burial of a Leg. — Last Will 
and Testament of an American who Means to be Absent on 
the Day of Judgment. 




ONATHAN measures everything by his own 
gigantic ell. 

His notions are like the continent he 
inhabits : vast, almost boundless. He has 



done such wonders, that he feels equal to doing 
anything and everything. 

The result is that America is the home of all 
forms of eccentricities, of all forms of daring. To the 
Americans themselves, this daring, these eccentri- 
cities are the most natural things in the world, and 
that is what makes their charm. 

Jonathan considers that everything is to be had, 
it is but a question of will and of money. How 
much ? So much — Done. 

Parisians remember very well the American 
millionaire who, on the occasion of his daughter's 
marriage, wrote to the Conseil Municipal to ask for 
the loan of the Arc de Triomphe, which he was 



Jonathan and his Continent, 



239 



anxious to decorate in honour of the wedding, and 
have the special use of during the day. 

He was politely informed that the Arch was not 
to let. 

" Then I will buy it," he replied ; " name your 
price." 

The offer was a royal one, and the American, I 
doubt not, thought the Town Council mad to let 
slip such a chance of doing business. 

Jonathan would ask the Queen to lend him 
Windsor Castle for the season, if the fancy took him. 

A Bostonian once conceived the idea of entertain- 
ing his friends with the performance of an oratorio. 
His drawing-room being much too small to hold 
the party he wished to invite, he thought of hiring 
a concert-room or a theatre for the night. 

" But, no," he said to himself, " an oratorio 
would be much more impressive in a sacred edifice." 

And he set about hiring the cathedral of the 
place. 

Such things as these make us smile, and we say, 
" Those Americans are crazy." Certainly they are 
a little bit touched. 

In America, the most preposterous ideas find 
partisans — and subscribers. 

Thus, I saw in one of the most widely read 
American newspapers the announcement of a com- 
pany recently founded, with a capital of 500,000 
dollars, called : 

" Matrimonial Infidelity Insurance Company." 



240 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



The prospectus of this enterprise states its object 
and advantages with categorical clearness. Each 
sufferer, upon presenting proof, is to receive from 
the company a cheque as a sort of court-plaster to 
patch up his lacerated feelings. I would not advise 
you to put a penny in the concern. I have no 
confidence in the dividends of an enterprise which 
might some day have to pay a fabulous sum to a 
Mormon, whose twenty or thirty wives had taken it 
into their heads to desert in a batch. 

The " Consoler " would be a good name for 
this company of insurance against the risks of 
marriage. 

I also note the existence of a Harmony Association, 
the object of which is to examine men and women 
about to marry, and to give them Mr. Punch's 
advice, or to stamp the men warranted to wear and 
the women warranted to wash. No more frauds 
possible. Perhaps the association may presently 
undertake to furnish the certificate of the decease 
of the future mother-in-law. 

As a specimen of small and harmless eccen- 
tricities, I extract the following from an American 
paper : 

" Mrs. Margaret R., of New York, had her leg 
amputated the other day, and insisted upon its 
having Christian burial in her family lot in Calvary 
Cemetery. A death certificate was made out by the 
doctor, setting forth that the leg had died of 
amputation at the Chambers Street Hospital, 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



241 



November 29th, 1887; that it was fifty years old, 
married, and part mother of a family. The leg was 
buried with all due ceremony." 

The thing being quite natural, the newspaper 
makes no comment upon it. It only supplies it with 
a good heading, something like A Leg gone to Heaven 
in advance of its Owner. 

A certain Mr. Ambrose R., of Pittsburg, evidently 
intending to be a defaulter at the Last Judgment, 
has drawn up a will giving these directions for the 
disposal of his remains : 

" I direct that my body be taken to St. Michael's 
Church, and, after the proper religious services areper- 
formed, that it be given in charge of my family, who 
will convey it to Samson's Crematory, and there 
have it burned to ashes, the ashes to be put in a 
small bottle and given in charge of the German 
Consul in Pittsburg. This gentleman will then 
forward my ashes to the Consul in New York, who 
will give them in charge of the captain of the 
German steamer Elba, who will place them securely 
in his ship for the ocean voyage. When at mid- 
ocean, I direct the captain to request one of the 
crew to ascend to the top of the topmost mast with 
my ashes in his hand, and, after pronouncing a last 
benediction, to extract the cork from the bottle and 
cast its contents to the four winds of heaven. I 
direct also, while this ceremony is being performed, 
that it be witnessed by all the passengers on board. 
After the Elba has completed her trip and returned 



242 Jonathan and his Continent. 



again to New York, I want a full statement of my 
death and the scattering of my ashes in mid-ocean 
published in the Pittsburg papers, so that my friends 
in this city shall know my burial-place." 

This reminds me of Chateaubriand's ocean burial, 
but the sprinkling adds a touch of humour of which 
poor Chateaubriand was wholly destitute. 



Jonathan and his Continent, 



243 



CHAPTER XXXV. 

A dvertisements. — M arvellous Puffs. — Illustrated Ditto. — A 
Yankee on the Look-out for a Living. — 11 Her Heart and 
a Cottage." — A Circus Proprietor and the President of the 
United States. — Irresistible Offers of Marriage. — A 
Journalist of all Work. — Wanted, a Frenchwoman, Young, 
Pretty, and Cheerful. — Nerve-calming Syrup. — Doctors 
on the Road. — An Advocate Recommends Himself to Light- 
fingered Gentlemen. — Mr. Phineas Barnum, the King of 
Showmen. — Nothing is Sacred in the Eyes of Phineas, 
the Modern Phanix. — My Manager regrets not being 
able to Engage Mr. Gladstone and Lord Randolph 
Churchill for Platform Work in the United States. 

HE Americans of to-day are so blas6 on 
the matter of advertisements, that it is 
difficult to attract their attention without 
getting up extravagant baits for their eyes. 
To announce your wares as superior to all that 
have been yet before the public; to publish testi- 
monial letters from all the worthy folk who have 
been cured by your drug ; to merely describe yourself 
as honest and industrious, when seeking a situation, 
— the day for all this is past. 

After the ordinary, it became necessary to adopt 
the extraordinary, and, in these times, it is as much 
as the marvellous can do to produce any effect. 

The most effective bait is the illustrated advertise- 
U 




244 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



ment. Here, for instance, is the " Capilline," which 
makes the hair and whiskers grow as if by magic. 
You have to be so careful in handling the stuff, that 
if a drop were to fall, say, on your nose, a tuft of 
hair would immediately grow thereon. On the left, 
you see a poor fellow, bald, whiskerless, and wan. 
A young lady is turning her back on him with a look 
of disgust. The illustration is entitled, " Before 
using Capilline — Refused." On the right, you see a 
superb male beauty, adorned with a luxuriant growth 
of hair and beard. The same young lady reposes 
her head on his shoulder, and raises her rapturous 
eyes to his. Underneath are the words, "After 
using Capilline — Accepted." But the most marvellous 
part of it is, that the " Capilline " has changed the 
cut of the man's coat. First he was dressed in a 
lank, threadbare, shapeless sack ; after having used 
the magic elixir, he has bloomed into the pink of 
tailoring perfection. 

I culled the following advertisement from one of 
the New York papers : 

"As Collector or Salesman. — Slim, sleek, 
slender, sharp, shrewd, sensible, sarcastic Yank, 
seeks a situation in some store,* hotel or office, as 
collector or salesman ; has highest references, and 
push and cheek of an army mule : can sell goods or 
collect bills with any man on the continent of North 
America (Buck's County, Penn., included)." 

The next specimen is an idyll. It is entitled, Her 
Heart and a Cottage. " For hours she was lost in 
* JVlark the attractive buzzing of all these s's, 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



245 



ecstasy, gazing into her lover's eyes. 1 How beautiful 
you are,' she said, * and how happy you look ! 
Darling, say that it is I who am the cause of your 
happiness.' The handsome young man tenderly 
kissed the lips of his dear one. ' Yes,' he said, ■ it is 
because you love me that I am so happy, but I owe 
my look of resplendent health to Dr. Benson's 
syrup.' " 

A Chicago draper thus advertises his annual 
sale : 

" Sell or Perish — Pay or Die — I must get rid of 
my stock this week." 

On a hairdresser's shop, I read : 

"Tonsorial Palace — Professor Rogers has your 
hair cut under his own supervision. How is it cut ? 
— As You Like It (Shakespeare)." 

President Cleveland, wishing one day to see a 
certain circus performance, sent to retain a box. 
The circus proprietor immediately hired, and sent 
about the streets of the town, a small army of sand- 
wich men, carrying an advertisement worded as 
follows : " The President of the United States, with 
his young and beautiful wife, will honour the circus 
with their presence this evening." 

There was such a demand for seats, that numbers 
of people were refused ; but Mr. and Mrs. Cleveland, 
having heard that their names had served as an 
advertisement, did not appear. 

After the performance, a great part of the 
audience demanded the return of half their entrance 

17 * 



246 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



money, on the ground that the programme had not 
been carried out in its entirety, since the President 
and his wife had not made their appearance, as the 
spectators had been led to expect. 

The circus manager was obliged to reimburse, 
says the paper from which I extract the account. 

Never lay aside an American newspaper without 
reading the advertisements. Ten to one you will 
be rewarded for your patience. 

The following appeared in the Neiv York Herald 
matrimonial column : 

" A Christian gentleman, good family, highest 
character, American, handsome, educated, cultured, 
will give his youthful manhood and vigour for the 
love of a maiden lady with an income ; marriage ; 
no triflers." 

This reads a " trifle " like a hoax of some male 
trifler. 

In another column, an American, desirous of 
learning French, expresses himself thus : 

" An American desires to take French lessons of 
a French lady, young, well-bred, good-looking, and 
of a lively disposition." 

A tempting offer for my countrywomen. 

A journalist in the ranks of the unemployed 
naively addresses himself to the editors of American 
papers : 

"A journalist without children, and total 
abstainer, wishes to obtain a situation as reporter. 
Writes leaders, general gossip, interviews, literary, 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



247 



musical, and dramatic criticisms, and police-court 
reports. Fertile imagination : can make one or two 
interesting columns out of the smallest incident." 

Fertile imagination ! This is the most important 
testimonial for an American journalist. 

An apothecary may puff a nerve-calming syrup 
by announcing that, to be happy in his domestic 
relations, "a husband should administer a table- 
spoonful of it to his wife every morning," without 
great loss of dignity : but it is not the shopkeeper 
alone who has recourse to such means for keeping- 
himself before the public ; much the same thing is 
done by certain doctors and lawyers. Of course 
these charlatans are not to be confounded with the 
numerous lawyers and doctors who are an honour to 
their professions ; but, at any rate, they are men 
who have passed examinations to obtain licence, if 
not their degree. 

There are travelling doctors in America who go 
from town to town to heal the sick at reduced 
prices. 

Here is the advertisement of one of these gentle- 
men. It is headed with his portrait, and appears 
in the papers of the towns he operates upon : 

" Dr. R. has already remained in M longer 

than he first intended, but at the request of numerous 
invalids and friends he will extend his stay one week 
longer. Patients in other towns have been dis- 
appointed by his long stay in M ; but they have 

his assurance that this visit will not be extended 

BEYOND THE TIME STATED ABOVE." 



248 



Jonathan and his Continent, 



This stereotyped advertisement has a flavour of 
the drum and cymbals of the mountebank. Walk 
up, ladies and gentlemen, walk up and show your 
tongues and have your pulses felt. 

Further down, this same medical gentleman falls 
into the style of the chimney-sweep, anxious to 
enlarge his connection : " He thanks his many 
friends and patrons for the kindness and patronage 
bestowed upon him, and trusts, by pursuance of the 
same honourable business and professional methods 
and efforts, to fully merit a continuance of same." 

Many a briefless man of the law sends his card 
around to the occupants of the various prisons. As 
an improvement upon this, I would suggest (and I 
do not doubt it has been already done) something in 
the style of Dr. R.'s puff : 

" Mr. X., advocate, presents his compliments to 
the gentlemen of the light finger, and hopes to be 
honoured with their confidence. No fees unless the 
case is won. Mr. X. is eloquent, persuasive, tender, 
pathetic, impulsive, violent, just as the case may 
demand. He can disconcert witnesses and touch 
the jury. Many great criminals owe him their 
liberty and even their lives." 

In the smoking-room of the Germanic one 
day, an American, who sat near me, said, address- 
ing me : 

" I believe you are going to America to lecture, 
sir ?" 

" Yes," I replied, " I am." 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



249 



" Who is booming your show, may I ask ? " he 
said in the most natural way in the world. 

I must have stared at him like a rustic, being 
utterly at a loss to understand what he meant. 

Upon getting this Americanism explained, I had 
the satisfaction of finding that my interlocutor's 
question simply meant, in English, "Who is your 
impresario ? " 

"Well," thought I, " I am going to have a lively 
time in the States, that's evident : this is a foretaste 
that is promising." I went to my cabin thinking 
about the Yankee who was to " boom my show." 

The greatest " boomer " in America is the great, 
the only, the unique Barnum. The personality of 
this king of showmen is not particularly interesting, 
except for being typically American, and one that 
could not exist in any country but America. 

Mr. Barnum (Phineas is his baptismal name), 
pursued by Fate, is every five years the victim of a 
conflagration. His fires happen with terrible 
regularity. Whilst I was in America, his tigers and 
elephants were burnt out of house and home. 
Scarcely had the flames been extinguished, when 
there were paragraphs in the papers to say that Mr. 
Barnum's agent was buying fresh animals for the 
" biggest show on earth," and all over the walls 
of America's cities were to be seen flaring posters, 
representing Phineas Barnum rising from the flames, 
like a modern Phoenix. Appended was a long 
literary essay, which began: "Rising Phcenix-lik© 



250 



Jonathan and his Continent, 



from the ashes of my fifth fire," and setting forth 
the wonderful attractions of the new show which 
was to be opened. 

Mr. Barnum holds in small esteem the man who 
lets slip a chance of making money. He would 
think it quite natural to offer 10,000 francs a week 
to General Boulanger to show himself in his museum, 
and would think it very unnatural that the General 
should refuse such a handsome offer. The rumour 
had it that the enterprising Phineas wrote to M. 
Pasteur some time since to try and engage him. He 
guaranteed, it is said, 50,000 dollars to the illustrious 
savant if he would inoculate before the American 
public twice a day. It was not much to ask, and 
the 50,000 dollars would have been easily earned. 
Barnum, however, had to content himself with 
engaging a gentleman in spectacles, resembling 
more or less the famous master of the Rue d'Ulm, 
and he succeeded in securing four little Americans 
whom M. Pasteur had just saved from hydrophobia. 
They were inoculated (with clear water probably) 
for a month, in all the principal towns of the States. 
The Society for the Protection of Animals, which 
does not include man in its circle of operations, made 
no objection, and the coffers of the enterprising 
Phineas overflowed with dollars. 

Barnum does not understand how a good offer 
can be refused. He looks upon everything as being 
to sell or to let, and the almighty dollar as the master 
of the world. One day, he took it into his head to 
make an offer for the house in which Shakespeare 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



was born. The English fired up at the idea, and he 
had to abandon his project, and be satisfied with 
"Jumbo." 

The Musee Grevin in Paris, and Madame 
Tussaud's Exhibition in London, are full of celebrities 
in wax. The dream of Barnum is to exhibit them in 
the flesh. 

If every European nation were to become a 
republic, the dethroned monarchs could go and make 
their fortunes in America, and the greatest ambition 
of Barnum would be realised. 

Nothing astonishes an American. That which 
makes his conversation immensely piquant is the 
calm, natural tone in which he comes out with 
statements that fairly take your breath away. 

My impresario had just engaged me for a lecture 
season in the States and Canada. 

"I shall have two Europeans on my list for next 
year," he said, " Mr Charles Dickens and yourself. 
I wanted two others, but they were not to be had." 

" That is not very flattering," said I ; " but who 
are the two Europeans you cannot get ?" 

" Mr. Gladstone and Lord Randolph Churchill," 
replied he quite calmly. 

Then, suppressing the words " Mr." and "Lord," 
according to the habit of his countrymen, he added 
with a sigh : 

" Yes, Gladstone would have made a lump, and 
Churchill would have been an elegant success." 



252 Jonathan and his Continent. 



CHAPTER XXXVI. 

Railways. — Vestibule Trains. — Hotels on Wheels. — Windows 
and Ventilators, and their Uses. — Pitiless Firemen. — 
Conductors and their Functions. — A Traveller's Perplexity. 
— Rudeness of Railway Servants. — The Actress and the 
Conductor. — An Inquisitive Traveller. — A Negro in a 
Flourishing Way. — Commerce on board the Cars. — 
"Apples, Oranges, Bananas!" — The Negro Compart- 
ment. — Change of Toilette. — " Mind your own business." 

HE Americans have suppressed distances 
by bringing railway trains to perfection. 

You take the cars after dinner to go 
a two or three hundred mile journey. 
You pass an hour or two in the smoking-room; you 
go to your berth, sleep the night through, and by 
the time you awake you are at your journey's end. 

In point of comfort, the American trains are to 
the French and English trains what these latter are 
to the stage-coach of bygone days. 

Nothing can surpass the comfort and luxury of 
the Pullman cars, unless it be the perfected Pullman 
that is called the Vestibule Train. Six or seven 
carriages, connecting one with another, allow of 
your moving about freely over a length of some 
hundred yards. Dining-room, sleeping car, drawing- 
room car, smoking-room, library, bath-room, lavatory, 
the whole fitted up in the most luxurious style. 




Jonathan and his Continent. 



253 



What can one desire more? It is a hotel on wheels. 
It is your appartement, in which you whirl from New 
York to Chicago in twenty-four hours. Cook, barber, 
valets de chambre — you have all at hand. Yes, a 
barber ! There is a barber's shop at the end of the 
train. Perhaps, by-and-by, they will introduce a 
billiard-room. The platforms at the ends of the car- 
riages are closed in by a concertina-pleated arrange- 
ment having doors opening outwards. You pass from 
one carriage to the other without having to expose 
yourself to cold or rain ; children may play about 
and run from carriage to carriage with perfect safety. 
Everything has been thought out, everything 
has been carried out that could conduce to the 
comfort of travellers ; and unless the Americans in- 
vent a style of dwelling that can be moved about 
from one place to another (and they will come to 
this, no doubt, in time), I do not see that one could 
desire, or even imagine, more agreeable, more elegant, 
or safer railway carriages. 

Let anything unforeseen occur — a snowstorm, for 
instance, — delaying the train for hours, and you at 
once recognise the superiority of American trains 
over European ones. Instead of being cooped up 
in a narrow box-like compartment, shivering with 
cold and hunger until the rails have been cleared, 
you can move about from one end of the thoroughly 
warmed train to the other, and obtain food and 
drink when you require it. Under such circum- 
stances it is not difficult to resign yourself to the 
delay. 



254 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



Rugs are a useless encumbrance. The trains are 
warmed from October to April. As soon as you 
enter the carriages, you feel the need of taking off 
your wraps, for the temperature is generally hovering 
about the eighties. 

The fireman is a pitiless ebon tyrant, who will 
take no heed to your appeals for mercy : let the 
temperature be high or low, he evidently considers 
his whole duty to be the piling on of as much coal 
as the stove will burn. 

There are windows and ventilators : but if you 
open your window, you will see your fellow-travellers 
turn up their coat-collars and get down their shawls 
and furs; and you will hear energetic grumblings, 
which will give you to understand that you are 
turning yourself into a public calamity. The Ameri- 
cans are shivery people, stewing themselves in a 
bain-marie. 

As to the ventilators, they are under the manage- 
ment of the car conductor ; and if that gentleman is 
not too warm, you may gasp and faint before getting 
any relief from him. The comfort of the travellers 
is not his affair ; and if you succeed in coaxing him 
to open one or two ventilators, he soon comes along 
again to close them.* 

Here, as well as in the hotels, and in all conditions 
of American life, you are at the mercy of servants. 
There is no remedy at hand, no appeal against it. 

* Even in the morning, after twenty or thirty people have 
passed the night in the car, it is quite difficult to get the ventilators 
opened to change the air. 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



255 



The car conductors are generally impolite, even 
rude. Do not ask them questions — above all, 
those questions which travellers are wont to ask : 

" Shall we soon be at ? " " Is the train late ? " 

" What is the next station ? " etc. In America you 
are supposed to know everything, and no one will 
help you unless you should happen to address your- 
self to well-bred people. 

If you ask a passer-by in the street the nearest 
way to the station, he makes as though he understood 
you not. The word station is English ; but you must 
talk American here, and say depot, pronounced deepo. 

When a railway servant has succeeded in insult- 
ing you, he is quite proud, and plumes himself on his 
smartness ; he looks at his mates and seems to say, 
" Did you hear how I spoke up to him ? " He would 
be afraid of lowering himself by being polite. In his 
eyes, politeness is a form of servility; and he imagines 
that, by being rude to well-bred people, he puts 
himself on a footing with them, and carries out the 
greatest principle of democracy — equality. Just so 
agreeable, obliging, and considerate as is the culti- 
vated American ; just so rude, rough, and inconsider- 
ate is the lower-class one. 

You go to a railway ticket - office to book for a 
certain place. Perhaps there are several lines of 
railway running to your destination. The clerk says, 
without looking at you, and at the rate of a thousand 
words a minutes : 

"What line? B. and O., or S.F. and W.R.R., 
or C.I.L. and C. ? " 



256 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



" I want a ticket for Chicago." 

" I ask you whether you wish to go by the " 

Here he once more repeats various parts of the 
alphabet, casting a look of pity at you the while. 
Do not believe he will translate his ABC D's into 
English — it is your place to understand them. 

Do not lose your temper, however; that never 
pays in America. The natives would only enjoy it. 
Take the matter laughingly. This is the advice the 
Americans gave me ; and I recommend it to you, if 
ever you are similarly placed. 

I was having a siesta one day in one of the com- 
fortable arm-chairs of a drawing-room car, when the 
conductor came along and, giving me a formidable 
thump, cried out in the most savage tone : 

" Your ticket ! " 

I made haste to oblige him, and to offer apologies. 

" I trust I have not kept you waiting," said I. 

He went away quite crestfallen. 

You see, in America, you must be polite to every- 
one, or you would constantly be running the risk of 
treating with disrespect a future President. 

Another day I was in a New York local train. 
These trains have not drawing-room cars with 
smoking-rooms attached. Neither first, second, nor 
third class : all the carriages are alike. I addressed 
the conductor, asking him where I should find the 
smoking-compartment. In reply, he murmured a 
few unintelligible words between his teeth. In my 
humblest, sweetest accents, I said : 

" Excuse me, I did not hear." 



Jonathan and his Continent, 257 



He shouted at me at the top of his voice : 
" Be — hind — the — lo — co — mo — tive ; do you hear 
this time?" 

My first impulse was to knock him down. But I 
bethought myself of the advice that had been given 
me, and answered, with a smile : 

" Yes, I heard. I beg a thousand pardons. You 
are really too polite." 

A popular American actress was dining one 
evening in the dining-room car of a New York train. 
Being alone, she ate slowly, and deliberately dawdled 
over the meal, to kill time. The waiter, displeased 
at the audacity of such conduct, stood about within 
hearing, and began making the rudest remarks on 
her proceedings. 

When she had quite finished her dinner, and he 
came to remove the dishes, the actress wrote a few 
words upon one of her cards and, handing it to him 
with a sweet smile, she said : 

" Here is my card ; if you hand it in at the Opera 
House to-morrow evening, you will be provided with 
a stall. I regret exceedingly that it is not in my 
power to offer you a box — it is such a treat to meet 
with a polite railway servant ! " 

I have met, occasionally, with a polite conductor, 
but they are in the proportion of one to ten. 

The names of the stations are hidden. Do not 
hope that the conductor will clear up the mystery. 

The train had just stopped a few leagues from 
Richmond. 



258 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



" What station is this ? " asked a traveller, ad- 
dressing the conductor. 

This individual simply shrugged his shoulders 
and turned his back. 

I happened to be close to him. 

"What inquisitive people there are, to be sure!" 
I said to him. 

To an irritable person, the rudeness of the railway 
and hotel servants would be enough to spoil all the 
pleasure of a visit to America. But the Americans 
themselves are good-tempered, and pay no attention 
to these things. I know some who even get a 
certain amount of amusement therefrom. 

The negro who makes your bed is more polite ; 
but his politeness is not disinterested. A few 
moments before the arrival of the train at your 
destination, he brushes you down, and receives the 
invariable quarter (25 cents) for his trouble. These 
negroes, independently of the salary paid them by 
the company they work for, make from forty to fifty 
shillings a day in this way : say, from five to six 
hundred pounds a year. 

How many a white would turn black for less ! 

There is another annoyance on the railway, a 
veritable bugbear that it is hard to bear philo- 
sophically. 

On board the train is an indefatigable general 
dealer, whose store is in the last car. 

Scarcely is the train in motion when he commences 



Jonathan and his Continent. 259 



operations. He begins by taking a bundle of news- 
papers, with which he goes his first round, banging 
the doors after him. This done, he returns to his 
store, puts by the papers he has not sold, takes a 
basket, fills it with apples, oranges, and bananas, and 
starts again. Second banging of the doors at either 
end of your car. He shouts "Apples, oranges, 
bananas ! " as he goes. You shake your head to let 
him know that you do not wish any of his fruit, and 
he passes. Then he returns to his shop. You think 
you would like a nap, and will proceed to have one. 
You are reckoning without your host. He presently 
reappears with jujubes and cough lozenges; then 
with travelling-caps ; then with cigars and cigarettes. 
After that, it is photographs. He plagues you to 
examine his albums, the quality of which he vaunts 
with a zeal worthy of a better cause. You send 
him about his business, but not for long. He soon 
comes round again, bearing an armful of monthly 
magazines; and after that, with a pile of novels. 
Whether you have your eyes closed or not, he lays 
one or two on your lap, and rouses you to know if 
really you are not going to buy anything of him. 
Your blood rises, you feel at last as if it would be a 
relief to fling his merchandise at his head, or rather 
out of the window, with him after it. But, "patience!" 
you say to yourself. " After all, he must soon exhaust 
his stock-in-trade, and then I shall have peace." 
Vain illusion ! Five minutes later he begins his 
rounds again with the apple and banana basket. 
This is too much, and you inwardly send him to 

18 



260 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



destruction, with his apples, jujubes, travelling-caps, 
newspapers, books, and all his — stock-in-trade. 

The Americans have the patience of angels. I 
have seen them, for five or six hours, refuse with the 
politest sign of the head th ; different articles of these 
ambulant bazaars. They seem to say : " That 
creature is very annoying, a terrible nuisance ; but I 
suppose we must all get a living somehow." 

Returning to Jacksonville from St. Augustine, I 
omitted to engage my place in the parlour-car, and 
was obliged to find a seat in the ordinary cars. The 
evil was not great, seeing that the journey takes but 
fifty minutes. 

Besides the parlour-car, the train comprised three 
cars, two of which were already almost full. I 
installed myself in the third, which was empty. 

Up comes the conductor. 

"Come out; you can't travel in that car," he 
said. 

"Why, pray?" I asked. 

" Because it is the coloured people's car." 

" And am I not as good as they ? " 

" I tell you you can't travel in this car." 

" I am sorry, for once, that I am not coloured," 
I said to him ; " it is much the cleanest of your 
carriages." 

Going to the end of the last carriage, I found 
myself just in front of the apple, banana, jujubes, 
book, and cap store. 

From my seat I was able to contemplate the 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



261 



activity of the commercial gentleman at the head of 
this department. 

During the fifty minutes' ride, he was going and 
coming continually. 

When his last tour of the train had been made, 
he put all the merchandise which he had not sold in 
place, took off his uniform, put on a black coat and 
hat, and fastened into his cravat a huge diamond pin. 
I looked on at the rapid metamorphosis with great 
interest. When his toilet was completed, he turned 
round and, seeing that I was looking at him, he 
threw me a patronising glance, eyeing me from head 
to foot. I thought he was about to say : 

" What is it you want ? " 

" Well, business is looking up, eh ? " I hazarded. 

" Mind your own d business," he replied ; 

and, turning on his heels, he departed. 



18 * 



262 



Jonathan and his Continent, 



CHAPTER XXXVII. 

Jonathan's Domestics. — Reduced Duchesses. — Queer Ideas of 
Equality. — Unchivalrous Man. — The Ladies of the Fea- 
ther - broom. — Mr. Vanderbilfs Cook. — Negroes. — Pom- 
pey's Wedding. — Where is my coat? — Kitchen Pianists. — 
"Punch's" Caricatures Outdone by Reality. — A Lady 
seeks a Situation as Dishwasher. — Why it is Desirable not 
to Part with your Servants on Bad Terms. 

W~ONATHAN'S domestics all appear to me 
J *° ^ e reduced duchesses and noblemen in 

T livery. 

When you speak to a man-servant, 
before replying he scans you from head to foot, and 
seems to say : 

"Who may you be? Be careful how you talk 
to me ! We are a free nation : all equals here, and 
I am as good as you, sir ! " 

And you feel inclined to say to him : 

" I congratulate you, young man, upon living in 
a free country ; but since we are all equals here, and 
I am civil to you, why on earth cannot you be civil 
to me ? " 

The fellow is lacking in logic. 

The manner of the maid-servant is different ; she 
wears a look of contempt and profound disgust : she 
seems to say with a sigh : 

" How can men be such brutes as to allow women 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



263 



to work! What despicable creatures they are, to 
be sure ! " 

She moves about the room frowning, and as she 
goes out, darts at you a look full of vengeance. It is 
especially in the hotels of country towns that you 
observe the traits above mentioned. 

To get an idea of the prodigious labour under- 
taken by an American servant-girl, one has but to 
see her at work doing a room, feather-broom in hand. 

The coal most used in America is the anthracite 
kind ; it has its good qualities : it throws out great 
heat and burns for many hours ; but it makes a 
quantity of light ashes, which cover the furniture of 
a room with a thick coating of dust every day. 

Whenever I chanced to see the chambermaid in 
the morning shaking my curtains, and making a 
cloud of dust, enough to prevent one from seeing 
across the room, it was all I could do to refrain 
from calling out to her, " My good girl, you are 
giving yourself a great deal of trouble for nothing ; 
don't meddle with the dust, it is better where it is." 
Thanks to the feather-broom, my parlour was always 
done in a twinkling ; but before I dared go into it, I 
was obliged to wait until the dust had returned to 
its place again. 

A day or two after this remarkable manner of 
dusting had attracted my attention, I came across 
the following in Puck : 

Sarah is doing the drawing-room. Enters the 
mistress of the house, evidently fearing to be choked 
by the cloud of dust that fills the room. 



264 Jonathan and his Continent. 



" Sarah, what are you doing ? " 
" I 'm dusting the room." 

" I see. When you've finished, please to undust it." 

Servants' wages range from £40 to £60 a year — 
I mean, of course, in good ordinary houses, and not 
in millionaire's mansions. Mr. C. Vanderbilt pays 
his chief cook two thousand pounds a year. I write 
the sum in letters that the reader may not exclaim, 
" Surely there is an error here ; the printer has put 
one nought too many." 

In spite of the enormously high wages they pay, 
the Americans have so much trouble in getting good 
servants that numbers of them are, so to speak, 
driven from their homes, and obliged to take refuge 
in hotels and apartment-houses. 

Negro servants are the only ones at all deferential 
in manner, or who have a smile on their faces from 
time to time ; but many people have an objection to 
them, and charge them with serious faults, such as 
finding things which are not lost, and breaking the 
monotony of life by dressing up in their employers' 
raiment when occasion offers. 

An American of my acquaintance, upon going to 
his room one evening to dress for a dinner-party, 
found his dress-coat and waistcoat missing from the 
wardrobe. Guessing their whereabouts, he went 
upstairs, and there, in his negro-butler's room, were 
the missing garments. He rang for the culprit. 

" Pompey, I have found my dress-clothes in your 
room. What is the meaning of it ? " 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



265 



" I forgot to put dem back, sah." 

" You have had them on, you rascal ? " 

" Yes, sah." 

" How dare you wear my clothes ? " 

" Please, massa, I got married yesterday," and 
the broad black face of Pompey was lit up with a 
rather sheepish-looking grin. 

All the caricatures of the comic papers are out- 
done by realities in America. 

These, for instance, are not caricatures, but 
facts : 

Servant-maids will often refuse to enter your 
service if there is not a piano in the basement. 

Others will demand folding-beds. They will give 
you to understand that, when they receive their 
"gentlemen" friends, it is not proper and becoming 
to entertain them in a room where the bed on which 
they repose their charms at night is spread out. 

I know a lady who, losing her patience with her 
housemaid one day, said to her : 

" I expect my servants to do so and so." 

" Your what ? " cried the indignant damsel. "I '11 
just tell you what I think of you. You ain't no lady, 
that 's certain." 

Needless to say that American " helps " vie with 
their mistresses in display of toilette. Everyone 
knows that. Their diamonds are false, of course ; 
but there are so many rhinestones worn by ladies 
who are not "helps" (even to their husbands), that 



266 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



it is difficult to distinguish the wife of a millionaire 
from her kitchenmaid by their diamonds. 

Here are two advertisements which I extract 
from an Indianapolis newspaper : 

" Situation as dishwasher required by a lady. — 
Apply Sentinel Office." 

" A lady (white) undertakes washing at home." — 
(Address follows.) 

Democracy can no further go. 

" I take care never to part on bad terms with my 
servants when they leave me." This was said to me 
one day by a clever Boston lady, who, to my think- 
ing, lacks sufficient admiration for the democratic 
institutions of America. 

I guessed that she intended a covert satire on 
the greatest Republic in the world. 

"Why?" I demanded. 

" Because, when one of those girls leaves me, it 
is quite within the range of possibility that she will 
marry some Western ranchman ; and one day, when 
her husband becomes a Senator, she may be useful 
to me at Washington." 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



267 



CHAPTER XXXVIII. 

Jonathan's Table. — Danger of Steel Knives. — The Americans 
are Water-drinkers. — / discover a Snake in my Tumbler. — 
The Negro Waiter Comforts Me. — Accommodation for 
Travellers. — The Menu. — Abbreviated Dinner. — The Lit- 
tle Oval Dishes. — Turkey and Cranberry Sauce. — A not 
very Tempting Dish. — Consolation of Knowing that the 
Waitresses are well cared for. — Something to Eat, for 
Heaven's Sake! — Humble Apologies to Mine Host. 

%"V"# HE great mass of the American people live 
T Wf I on tou £ n meat uncooked, and iced water 
fc/M\a unfiltered. 

r^""™ I take it for granted that sheep and 

cattle are born at as tender an age in America as 
elsewhere ; but the Society for the Protection of 
Animals probably prevents their being killed for 
food while they are young enough to enjoy life, and 
so the patriarchs alone are reserved for the table. 

That which renders the problem of dining almost 
past solving is, that the meat has to be attacked 
with plated knives, which tear but do not cut it. I 
suppose that, as half the lower-class Americans still 
eat with their knives, it was necessary to abandon 
the idea of having steel knives, for fear of their acci- 
dentally gashing their faces. If sharp steel knives 
were in general use in America, the streets would be 



268 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



full of people with faces scarred and seamed like 
those of the Heidelberg students. 

The Americans drink little else but water at table, 
and one cannot help wondering how it is that the 
filter seems to be an almost unknown institution in 
the land. Leave your glass of water untouched on 
the table, and, in a few moments, a thick sediment 
of mud or sand will be visible at the bottom of it. 

Down south it is worse still. 

At Jacksonville, I was waited upon at table by an 
extremely obliging negro. 

One day he brought me some water, put ice in 
it, and discreetly withdrew behind my chair. 

I took up the glass, and minutely inspected its 
contents. 

" Epaminondas ! " said I. 

" Dat's not my name, sah ; I 'm called Charles." 
" Charles, look at this water ; there is a snake in 

it." 

Charles took the glass, looked at it, and then, 
with a reasurring grin, announced : 
"It's dead, sah." 

"That is comforting," said I ; "but it may have 
left eggs, which will come to life by thousands inside 
me." 

Charles was facetious, and was not to be put out 
of countenance for such a trifle. He took up the 
glass again, re-examined it, and replaced it on the 
table. 

" Dere 's no danger, sah ; it 's a male," he said. 



Jonathan and his Continent, 



269 



In almost all hotels throughout the south, the 
waiters are coloured men. The service is but poor. 
The negroes are slow : it is the guests who do the 
"waiting." 

At Delmonico's especially, and in the principal 
hotels of New York, Boston, Washington, Phila- 
delphia, and Chicago, you can dine admirably. In 
the smaller towns you feed. 

But let us take our seats at the table d'hote of the 
best hotel in any second-rate town that you please 
in Ohio, Pennsylvania, or some other State of the 
Union. 

No printed menu. A young woman, with an elabo- 
rate coiffure of curls, rolls, and bangs, but no cap, 
approaches, darts a look of contempt at you, and, 
turning her back upon you, gabbles off in one 
breath : 

" Croutaupoturbotshrimpsauceroastbeefturkeycr- 
anberrysaucepotatoestomatoesspinachappletartminc- 
epiecheesevanillacream." 

Do not attempt to stop her ; she is wound up, 
and when she is started is bound to go to the end. 
You must not hope that she will repeat the menu a 
second time, either. If you did not hear, so much 
the worse for you. Unfortunately, the consequences 
are grave : it is not one dish that you miss, it is the 
whole dinner. You are obliged to order all your 
repast at once ; and the whole is brought you, from 
soup to cheese, at one time. 

I was so ill-inspired one day as to order some 



270 



Jonathan and his Continent, 



soup to begin with. The waitress refused downright 
to bring me anything more. 

"That is all you ordered," she said to me ; "you 
do not suppose I can make twenty journeys to the 
kitchen for you." 

I rose and sought the hotel-keeper. I made the 
humblest apologies ; pleaded that I was a foreigner 
who had only been in America a fortnight, and was 
not yet accustomed to the habits of the Americans. 
I promised solemnly never to transgress again in 
this way. Mine host went to the young person who 
was at the head of the battalion of harpies in the 
dining-room, and interceded for me with her. I 
had the happiness of being forgiven, and was allowed 
to appease my hunger. 

From that day forward, as soon as one of these 
witching damsels began her incantation, I cried 
out : 

" Hold ! Enough ! Bring it all in." 

Then I would eat the least distasteful of the 
messes, and leave the rest. I can assure you the 
hotel did not make much profit out of me. 

This is how the dinner is served : 

The "duchess" begins by flinging a spoon and 
knife and fork down on the table in front of you. It 
is for you to set them straight, and I would advise 
you to do so without any murmuring. When you have 
taken your soup, the said "duchess" brings you a 
plate, around which she places a dozen little oval 
dishes in a symmetrical fashion that one can but 
admire. 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



271 



The first little dish contains fish, and a teaspoon- 
ful of sauce of some kind. It is needless to inquire 
the name of this sauce. All the fish sauces are the 
same ; only the name varies. The second apparently 
contains a little lump of raw beef ; the third, a slice 
of roast turkey; the fourth, mashed potatoes; the 
fifth, a stewed tomato ; the sixth, cranberry sauce ; 
the seventh, chicken salad ; the eighth, some rice- 
pudding; and the last contains (horrible dictu!) a 
slice of apple-tart, with a large helping of cheese in 
the middle of it. These two things are eaten to- 
gether, and are consequently served on the same 
dish. 

You begin at the left. The fish presents no 
obstacle but its bones, and is soon disposed of. You 
turn your attention to the next dish on the right, 
and attack the beef. It is impregnable ; you can 
make no impression upon it. You pass. The turkey 
is not obdurate, and you fall to on that, making little 
raids on the potatoes, tomatoes, and cranberry sauce 
between each mouthful. Thanks to the many 
climates of America (the thermometer varies in 
winter from 75 above zero in the south to 45 below 
in the north), you have turkey and cranberry sauce 
all the winter, strawberries six months of the year, 
and tomatoes almost all the year round. 

Oh, the turkey and cranberry sauce ! I ate 
enough of that dish to satisfy me for the rest of my 
days. No more turkey with cranberry sauce for me, 
though I should live to be a hundred ! 

Of course, all the meats placed around your 



272 



Jonathan and his Continent, 



plate soon begin to cool, and you have no choice 
but to bolt your food, diving with knife and fork into 
the little dishes right and left as dexterously as you 
can. 

Finally you come to the apple-tart, on the ex- 
treme right. You carefully lift the cheese, and, 
placing it aside, prepare to eat your sweets without 
the strange seasoning. Unhappily, the pastry has 
become impregnated with an odour of roquefort, 
and again you pass. A vanilla ice terminates your 
repast. 

Having disposed of this, you ask yourself why> 
in a free country, you may not have your various 
courses served one after the other ; why you must 
bolt your food, and bring on indigestion ; and, above 
all, why the manager of the hotel, in his own interest 
as a man of business, does not, before all else, study 
the comfort of his customers. The answer is not 
difficult to find. It is the well-being of the " duch- 
esses," and not that of the traveller, that he devotes 
his attention to studying. The traveller is obliged 
to come to his house, and he can treat him anyhow. 
His " helps " will only consent to stay with him on 
condition he gives them heavy wages and light duties. 
He has no choice but to submit to his servants, or 
to close his hotel. The Americans, free though they 
may be politically, are at the mercy of their ser- 
vants, whether in public or private life. This kind 
of tyranny is hateful. To throw off the yoke of the 
superior classes is very well ; but I am not aware 
that the yoke of the common people is at all prefer- 



Jonathan and his Continent, 



273 



able. John Bull commands all his paid servants ; 
Jonathan obeys his. 

Thus in the hotels of America, outside of the large 
towns, with the rarest exceptions, the dinner is served 
from one o'clock to three, the tea-supper from six to 
eight. You happen to arrive at half-past three, tired 
out and famishing. You hope to be able to have a 
good meal without delay. Illusion ! You must 
wait until the dining-room door is opened, and 
pass two hours and a half in wretchedness. How 
often have I entreated, implored, " Could you not 
get a chop cooked for me, or an omelette, or 
something ? If that is impossible, for mercy's 
sake give me a slice of cold meat." Prayers and 
supplications were unavailing. Occasionally a land- 
lord would express his regrets, and make ex- 
cuses for his inability to oblige me ; but far 
oftener, I got no kind of response at all. Once or 
twice I tried making a tempest, without any more 
success. Another time I tried politeness. " Ex- 
cuse me," I said, " if I am intruding. I hope that 
by putting up at your house I shall not be too much 
in your way. I have not the honour to be a citizen 
of the greatest Republic in the world, but am only a 
poor European who does not know your ways. In 
future I will take careful precautions. But this time, 
and just for once, I would be so much obliged for 
something to eat. I should be distressed to occasion 
any derangement in your household ; but just for 
once — only once." Sheer waste of breath. The 
hotel is as it is ; you may use it or stay away. 



274 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



The Americans are quite right to study the com- 
fort of their servants; but the well-being of one 
class should not exist at the cost of the well-being 
of another, and the people who travel are as inter- 
esting as those who serve at table. 

Tyranny from above is a sore; tyranny from 
below is a pestilence. 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



CHAPTER XXXIX, 

How the Americans take their Holidays. — The Hotel is their 
Mecca. — Mammoth Hotels. — Jacksonville and St. 
Augustine. — The Ponce de Leon Hotel. — Rocking-chairs. 
— Having a 11 Good Time!" — The American is never 
Bored. — The Food is not very Salt, but the Bill is very 
Stiff. — The Negroes of the South. — Prodigious Memories. 
— More "Duchesses." — The Negresses. — J Insult a 
Woman. 

HOTELS are one of the strongest attract- 
ions in America to the Americans, 
especially the ladies. 
When we Europeans travel, we alight 
at a hotel because it is impossible that we should have 
a pitching place of our own in each town we visit, or 
friends able to receive us ; in other words, we go to 
the hotel because we cannot help it. When we leave 
our good bed and table, and set out to see the world 
a little, we say to ourselves : " The worst part of it 
is, that we shall have to live in hotels perhaps for a 
month or two : but, after all, it cannot be helped ; 
we must put up with hotels, since we have made up 
our minds to see Switzerland, or Scotland, or Italy." 

Our object in travelling is to see new countries, 
make pleasant excursions, climb mountains, &c; and 
to attain that object, we must use the hotels as a 
convenience, as a sad necessity. 

19 



276 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



In Europe, the hotel is a means to an end. 
In America, it is the end. 

People travel hundreds, nay, thousands of miles 
for the pleasure of putting up at certain hotels. 
Listen to their conversation, and you will find it 
mainly turns, not upon the fine views they have 
discovered, or the excursions and walks they have 
enjoyed, but upon the respective merits of the various 
hotels they have put up at. Hotels are for them 
what cathedrals, monuments, ruins, and the beauties 
of Nature are for us. 

In February, 1888, I went to see the Americans 
taking their pleasure in Florida. During the months 
of January, February, and March, flocks of society 
people from the great towns in the north go to 
Florida, where the sun is warm, and the orange 
trees are in full beauty of fruit and flower. Jackson- 
ville and St. Augustine are in winter what Saratoga, 
Newport, and Long Branch are in summer : the 
rendezvous of all who have any pretension to a place 
in the fashionable world. 

But what do they do at Jacksonville and St. 
Augustine, all these Americans in search of a " good 
time " ? You think perhaps that in the morning 
they set out in great numbers to make long excur- 
sions into the country or on the water ; that picnics, 
riding parties, and such out-of-door pastimes are 
organised. 

Not so. They get up, breakfast, and make for 
the balconies or terraces of the hotels, there to rock 
themselves two or three hours in rocking-chairs until 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



277 



lunch time ; after this they return to their rocking- 
chairs again and wait for dinner. Dinner over, they 
go to the drawing-rooms, where there are more 
rocking-chairs, and listen to an orchestra until bed- 
time. And yet, what pretty environs the little town 
of Jacksonville has, for instance ! For miles around 
stretches a villa-dotted orange grove ! 

And the table d'hote! 
Oh ! that table d'hote ! 

In France, we look well at the bill of fare and 
study it ; we discuss the dishes, arranging them 
discreetly and artistically in the mind before making 
their acquaintance more fully on the palate. We 
are gourmets. In America, the question seems to be 
not, " Which of these dishes will go well together ? " 
but, " How many of them can I manage ? " It is 
so much a day ; the moderate eaters pay for the 
gluttons. 

You see women come down at eight to breakfast 
in silk attire, and decked with diamonds. And 
what a breakfast ! First an orange and a banana 
to freshen the mouth and whet the appetite ; then 
fish, bacon and eggs, or omelette, beefsteak and fried 
potatoes, hominy cakes, and preserves. 

" How little you eat, you Frenchpeople ! " said 
an American to me one day, as I was ordering my 
breakfast of cafe an lait and bread and butter. 

" You are mistaken," said I ; " only we do not 
care for our dinner at eight o'clock in the morning." 

19 * 



278 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



The larger the hotel is, the better the Americans 
like it. A little, quiet, well-kept hotel where, the 
cookery being done for twenty or thirty persons 
instead of a thousand, the beef has not the same 
taste as mutton ; a hotel where you are known and 
called by your name, where you are not simply 
No. 578, like a convict ; — this kind of pitching place 
does not attract the American. He must have 
something large, enormous, immense. He is inclined 
to judge everything by its size. 

Jacksonville and St. Augustine boast a score of 
hotels, each capable of accommodating from six 
hundred to a thousand guests. These hotels are all 
full from the beginning of January to the end of 
March. 

I have almost always accepted with reserve the 
American superlatives followed by the traditional 
in the world ; but it may safely be said that the Ponce 
de Leon Hotel, at St. Augustine, is not only the 
largest and handsomest hotel in America, but in the 
whole world. Standing in the prettiest part of the 
picturesque little town, this Moorish palace, with its 
walls of onyx, its vast, artistically-furnished saloons, 
its orange-walks, fountains, cloisters, and towers, is 
a revelation, a scene from the Arabian Nights. 

Here the Americans congregate in search of a "good 
time," as they call it. The charges range from ten 
to twenty-five dollars a day for each person, exclusive 
of wines and extras. The American who goes to 
the Ponce de Leon with his wife and daughters, 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



279 



therefore spends twelve, fifteen, or twenty pounds a 
day. For this sum, he and his family are fed, played 
to by a very ordinary band, and supplied with an 
immense choice of rocking-chairs. On his return to 
New York, he declares to his friends that he has had 
a " lovely time." The American never admits that 
he has been bored, in America especially. The 
smallest incidents of the trip are events and adven- 
tures, and he never fails to have his " good time." 
He is as easily pleased as a child, and everything 
American calls out his admiration, or at least his 
interest. Remark to him, for instance, that to go 
by train to Florida from the north, one has to travel 
through more than six hundred miles of pine-forest 
— which makes the journey very uninteresting — and 
he will throw you a pitying glance which seems to 
say " Immense, sir, immense, like everything that 
is American." 

The temperature of Florida in winter is rarely 
lower than 64 degrees, and ranges from that to 75 ; 
but the climate is moist and enervating, the country 
a vast marsh, and so flat that, by standing on a chair, 
one could see to the extremities of it with the aid 
of a good field glass. Some enterprising American 
should throw up a hill down there : he would make 
his fortune. Everyone would go to see it. 

It is not everybody who can afford the luxury of 
the Ponce de Leon Hotel, but it is everybody who 
likes to be seen there in the season. 

You must be able to say, when you return to the 



280 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



north, that you have been at the Ponce de Leon. 
This is how it can be managed. You go to some 
other hotel near the Ponce. In the evening, dressed 
in all your diamonds, you glide into the courtyard 
of the great caravansery. Another step takes you 
to the immense rotunda where the concert is going 
on. You stroll through the saloons and corridors, 
and, taking a seat where you can be seen of the 
multitude, you listen to the music. About ten or 
eleven o'clock, you beat a retreat and return to your 
own hotel. 

Wishing to set my mind at rest on this matter, I 
went one evening about half-past nine to the Casa 
Monica and Florida House. There, in the rooms 
where the musicians engaged by the proprietors 
play every evening, were, at the most, a score of 
people. 

Heard at the St. Augustine station as I was 
leaving : 

" Hello ! you are off too ? " said a young man to 
a friend who had just installed his wife in the train 
for Jacksonville. 

" My dear fellow, I have been here a fortnight ; 
the Ponce de Leon is magnificent, but the bill is 
ruinous." 

" Never mind, old man ; take it off your wife's 
next dress-money." 

Everything is on a grand scale in American 
hotels, esrAcially the bills. 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



281 



With few exceptions, the waiters in all the great 
hotels are negroes. You are served with intelligence 
and politeness. No " duchesses " in the great cities 
of the north, or the fashionable resorts of the south. 

Those good negroes have such cheerful, open 
faces ! They seem so glad to be alive, and they look 
so good-natured, that it does one good to see them. 
When they look at one another, they laugh. When 
you look at them, they laugh. If a negro sees 
another negro blacker than himself, he is delighted ; 
he calls him " darky," and looks on him in a 
patronising way. Their great dark eyes that show 
the whites so, when they roll them in their own 
droll fashion ; the two rows of white teeth, constantly 
on view, framed in thick retrousse lips ; the swaying 
manner of walking, with turned-out toes and head 
thrown back ; the musical voice, sweet but sonorous, 
and so pleasing compared to the horrible twang of 
the lower-class people of the north, — all make up 
a picturesque whole : you forget the colour, and fall 
to admiring them. 

And how amusing they are ! 

At the Everett Hotel, Jacksonville, I one day 
went to the wrong table. 

"You've come to de wrong table, sah," said 
the attendant darky. Then, indicating the negro 
who served at the next table, he added, " Dat's de 
gentleman dat waits on you, sah." 

I immediately recognised my "gentleman," and 
changed my seat. The fact is that all the negroes 
are alike at a glance. It requires as much per- 



282 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



spicacity to tell one from another, as it does to dis- 
tinguish one French gendarme from another French 
gendarme. 

I never met with such memories as some of those 
darkies have. 

As I have said, the hotels of Florida are besieged 
during the winter months. At dinner time, you may 
see from six hundred to a thousand people at table. 
The black head-waiter knows each of the guests. 
The second time they enter the dining-room, he 
conducts them to their places without making a 
mistake in one instance. If you stop but a day, you 
may return a month after, and not only will he 
recollect your face, but he will be able to tell you 
which little table you sat at, and which place at that 
table was yours. 

At the door of the dining-room, a young negro of 
sixteen or eighteen takes your hat and puts it on a hat- 
rack. I have seen hundreds thus in his care at a time. 
You leave the dining-room, and, without a moment's 
hesitation, he singles out your hat and hands it to 
you. It is wonderful when one thinks of it. I give 
you the problem to solve. Several hundred men, 
most of whom you have not seen more than once or 
twice before, pass into a room, handing you their 
chimney-pots or wide-awakes to take care of. They 
come out of the room in no sort of order, and you 
have to give each the hat that belongs to him. I 
have tried hard and often, but never succeeded in 
finding out how it is done. 

Another negro in the hall goes and gets your 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



283 



key when he sees you return from a walk. No need 
to tell him the number of your room — he knows it. 
He may have seen you but once before, but that is 
all-sufficient — he never errs. 

And the negresses ! good, merry-looking creatures, 
with buxom faces and forms, supple, light, graceful 
gait, and slender waists, aping the fashion, and 
having very pretty fashions of their own, coquetting 
and mincing as they walk out with their " tic'lars " 
(particulars). The enjoyment of life is written on 
their faces, and one ends by thinking some of them 
quite pretty. I have seen some splendid figures 
amongst them. You should see them on Sundays, 
dressed in scarlet or some other bright colour, with 
great hats jauntily turned up on one side, and fanning 
themselves with the ease and grace of Belgravian 
ladies. 

Negresses are not employed as chambermaids in 
hotels. They go into service only as nurses, and of 
course children love them. Unhappily for you, it is 
the objectionable " duchesses" that you find again, 
upstairs this time. The evil is not so great as it is 
in the smaller towns, where these young persons 
wait at table also. In the best hotels, their only 
duty is to keep the bedrooms tidy. You must not 
ask any service of them beyond that. If you desire 
anything brought to your bedroom, you ring, and a 
negro comes to answer the bell and receive your 
order. 

I remember having one day insulted one of these 



284 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



women — certainly unintentionally, but the crime was 
none the less abominable for that. 
This was it. 

I was dressing to go out to dinner, and wanted 
some hot water to shave with. Having rung three 
times and received no answer, I grew impatient and 
opened the door, in the hope of seeing some servant 
who would be obliging enough to fetch me the water 
in question. A chambermaid was passing my door. 

" Could you, please, get me some hot water? " I 
said. 

" What do you say ? " was the reply, accompanied 
by a frown of contempt. 

" Would you be so good as to get me some hot 
water ? " I timidly repeated. 

" Who do you think I am ? Haven't you a bell 
in your room ? " replied the harpy. 

And she passed along, indignant. 

I withdrew into my room in fear and trembling, 
and for a few minutes was half afraid of receiving a 
request to quit the hotel immediately. 

I shaved with cold water that day. 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



285 



CHAPTER XL. 

The Value of the Dollar. — A Dressmaker's Bill. — What 
American Women must Spend on Dress. — Why so many 
Americans come to Europe every year. — Current Prices. — 
The Beggar and the Nickel. — Books and Oysters are Cheap. 
— Salaries. — " / can afford it." 

3 J TF you go to a changer, he will give you five 
j*» francs in French money, or four shillings in 
[ English, for a dollar. But in America you 
^ are not long in discovering that you get 
for your dollar but the worth of a shilling in English 
money, or a franc in French. 

The flat that lets for 4000 francs in Paris, and 
the house that is rented at £200 (4000 shillings) in 
London, would be charged 4000 dollars in New York, 
Boston, or Chicago. 

The simplest kind of dress, one for which a 
Parisian of modest tastes pays 100 francs, would 
cost an American lady at least 100 dollars. A visit- 
ing dress costing, in Paris, 500 francs, in New 
York, would be 500 dollars. A hat that would 
be charged 50 francs is worth 50 dollars. The rest 
to match. 

Here is a dressmaker's bill which fell under my 
eyes in New York. Divide each amount by five, and 
you have the sum in pounds sterling. 



286 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



Robe de chambre ... 


... 200 dollars 


Cloth dress 


... 175 „ 


Opera Cloak 


... 500 „ 


Riding habit 


... 180 „ 


Bonnet 


... 30 » 


Theatre bonnet 


... 50 9't 


Black silk dress 


... 24O „ 


Ball dress 


... 650 „ 



Added up, this makes 2025 dollars, in English 
money a total of £405. In this bill there is neither 
mantle, linen, shoes, gloves, lace, nor the thousand 
little requisites of a woman's toilette, and it is but 
one out of the three or four bills for the year. 

I am convinced that an American woman who 
pretends to the least elegance must spend, if she be 
a good manager, from £ 1000 to £1500 a year. Add 
to this the fact that she loads herself with diamonds 
and precious stones. But these, of course, have not 
to be renewed every three months. 

A great number of Americans come to Europe to 
pass three months of every year. This is not an 
additional extravagance, it is an economy. They 
buy their dress for a year, and the money they save 
by this plan not only pays their travelling expenses, 
but leaves them a nice little surplus in cash. 

A hotel bedroom on the fourth floor, for which 
you would pay five francs a-day in Paris, in New 
York is five dollars. A cab which costs you one 
franc and a half in France, or one shilling and six- 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



287 



pence in England, costs you a dollar and a half in 
New York. 

The dollar has not more value than this in the 
lesser towns of the United States. The omnibus, for 
instance, which takes you to the station from your 
hotel for sixpence in England, or half a franc in 
France, costs you half a dollar in America. 

Copper money exists in America ; but if you were 
to offer a cent to a beggar, he would fling it at you — 
fortunately there are very few. When the bare- 
footed urchins in the South beg, their formula is : 
" Spare us a nickel," or " Chuck us a nickel, guv'nor." 
The nickel is worth five cents, or twopence-half- 
penny English money. The only use of the cent 
that I could discover was to buy the evening paper. 

The only things cheap in the States are native 
oysters, and English or French books that have been 
translated (?) into American. 

If expenses are enormous in the United States, 
I must hasten to add that it is chiefly the foreign 
visitor who suffers in purse. The American can 
afford to pay high prices, because his receipts are 
far larger than they would be in Europe. Situations 
bringing in forty or fifty pounds are unknown in 
America. Bank clerks and shopmen command sala- 
ries of from £200 to £400 a year. A railway-car 
conductor gets £160 as wages. 

In the grades above, in the professions, the fees, 
compared with those earned in Europe, are also in 
the proportion of the dollar to the shilling or franc. 



288 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



A newspaper article, which would be paid in France 
250 francs (and no French paper, except the Figaro, 
pays sc much for an article) is often paid 250 dollars 
in America. A doctor is paid from five to ten dol- 
lars a visit. I am, of course, not speaking of 
specialists and fashionable doctors ; their charges 
are fabulous. I know barristers who make from 
twenty to thirty and forty thousand pounds. 

Everyone is well paid in the United States, 
except the Vice-President. 

If I have spoken of the high cost of living, it is 
to state a fact, and not to make a complaint. I 
went to America as a lecturer, not as a tourist. 
Jonathan paid me well; and when Cabby asked 
me for a dollar and a half to take me to a lecture- 
hall, I said, like M. Joseph Prudhomme, " It is 
expensive, but I can afford it," and I paid without 
grumbling. 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



289 




CHAPTER XLI. 

Conclusion. — Reply to the American Question. — Social Con- 
dition of Europe and America. — European Debt and 
American Surplus. — The Americans are not so Happy as 
the French. — What Jonathan has Accomplished. — A 
Wish. 

, ELL, sir, and what do you think of 
&fl[)f/* America ? " 

Without pretending to judge 
America ex cathedra, I will sum up 
the impressions jotted down in this little volume, and 
reply to the traditional question of the Americans. 

When one thinks of what the Americans have 
done in a hundred years of independent life, it looks 
as if nothing should be impossible to them in the 
future, considering the inexhaustible resources at 
their disposition. 

America has been doubling its population every 
twenty-five years. If emigration continues at the 
same rate as it has hitherto, in fifty years she will 
have more than two hundred millions of inhabitants. 
If, during that time, continental Europe makes pro- 
gress only in arts and sciences, while the social 
condition of its nations does not improve, she will 
be to America what barbarism is to civilisation. 

While the Hohenzollerns, the Hapsburgs, and 
the Firebrandenburgs review their troops ; while her 
standing armies cost Europe more than £200,000,000 
a year in peace time ; whilst the European debt is 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



£5,000,000,000, the American treasury at Washing- 
ton, in spite of corruption, which it is well known 
does exist, has a surplus of sixty million dollars. 
Whilst European Governments cudgel their wits to 
devise means for meeting the expenses of absolute 
Monarchies, the Washington Government is at a loss 
to know what to do with the money it has in hand. 
Whilst the European telegrams in the daily papers 
give accounts of reviews, mobilisations, and military 
manoeuvres; of speeches in which the people are 
reminded that their duty is to serve their Emperor 
first, and their country afterwards ; of blasphemous 
prayers in which God is asked to bless soldiers, 
swords, and gunpowder; the American telegrams 
announce the price of wheat and cattle and the 
quotations on the American Stock Exchange. 

Happy country that can get into a state of ebul- 
lition over a Presidential Election, or the doings 
of John Sullivan while Europe in trembling asks 
herself, with the return of each new spring, whether 
two or three millions of her sons will not be called 
upon to cut each other's throats, for the great glory 
of three Emperors in search of a little excitement ! 

America is not only a great nation, geographically 
speaking. The Americans are a great people, hold- 
ing in their hands their own destiny ; learning day 
by day, with the help of their liberty, to govern 
themselves more and more wisely ; and able, thanks 
to the profound security in which they live, to con- 
secrate all their talents and all their energy to the 
arts of peace. 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



291 



The well-read, well-bred American is the most de- 
lightful of men; good society in America is the wittiest, 
most genial, and most hospitable I have met with. 

But the more I travel, and the more I look at other 
nations, the more confirmed am I in my opinion that 
the French are the happiest people on earth. 

The American is certainly on the road to the pos- 
session cf all that can contribute to the well-being and 
success c f a nation ; but he seems to me to have missed 
the path that leads to real happiness. His domestic 
joys, I am inclined to think, are more shadowy than 
real. To live in a whirl is not to live well. 

America suffers from a general plethora. 

Jonathan himself sometimes has his regrets at 
finding himself drawn into such a frantic race, but 
declares that it is out of his power to hang back. 
If it were given to man to live twice on this planet, 
I should understand his living his first term a VAmeri- 
caine, so as to be able to enjoy quietly, in his second 
existence, the fruits of his toil in the first. Seeing 
that only one sojourn here is permitted us, I think 
the French are right in their study to make it a long 
and happy one. 

If the French could arrive at a steady form of 
government and live in security, they would be the 
most enviably happy people on earth. 

It is often charged against Americans that they 
are given to bragging. May not men who have done 
marvels be permitted a certain amount of self-glorifi- 
cation ? 

20 



20.2 



Jonathan and his Continent. 



It is said, too, that their eccentricity constantly 
leads them into folly and licence. Is it not better 
to have the liberty to err than to be obliged to run 
straight in leash ? If they occasionally vote like 
.children, like children they will learn. It is by 
voting that people learn to vote. 

Is there any country of Europe in which morals 
are better regulated, work better paid, or education 
widerspread ? Is there a country in Europe where 
you can find such natural riches, and such energy 
to employ them ; so many people with a con- 
sciousness of their own intellectual and moral force ; 
so many free schools where the child of the mil- 
lionaire and the child of the poor man study side by 
side ; so many free libraries where the boy in rags 
may enter and read the history of his country, and be 
fired with the exploits of its heroes ? Can you name 
a country with so many learned societies, so many 
newspapers, so many charitable institutions, or so 
much widespread comfort ? 

M. Renan, one day wishing to turn himself into 
a prophet of ill omen, predicted that, if France con- 
tinued Republican, she would become a second 
America. 

May nothing worse befall her ! 

THE END. 



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Dr. J. COLLIS BROWNE'S 

CHLORODYNE. 




QOUGHS, 

QOLDS, 

y^STHMA, 

gRONCHITIS. 



kR. J. COLLIS BROWNE'S 
* CHLORODYNE. — Dr. 
J. C. RROWNE, late Army 
Medical Staff.DISCOVERED 
a REMEDY, to denote which 
he coined the word 

CHLORODYNE. 
Dr. Browne is the SOLE 
INVENTOR, and, as the 
composition of Chlorodyne 
cannot possibly be dis- 
coTered by Analysis (or- 
ganic substances defying 
elimination), and since the 
formula has never been 
published, it is evident that 
any statement to the effect 
that a compound is iden- 
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Chlorodyne must be false. 

This Caution is necessary, 
as many persons deceive 
purchasers by falae repre- 
sentation!. 



kR. J. COLLIS BROWNE'S 
f CHLORODYNE. — Vice- 
Chancellor Sir W. PAGE 
WOOD STATED PUBLICLY 
In Court that Dr. J. COLLIS 
BROWNE was UNDOUBT- 
EDLY the INVENTOR of 
CHLORODYNE, that the 
whole story of the defendant 
Freeman was deliberately 
untrue, and he regretted to 
■ay it had been sworn to.— 
See the Times, July 13, 1864. 



QIARRHCEA, 

QYSENTERY, 

QHOLERA. 



The GENERAL BOARD 
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Dr. GIBBON. Army Medi- 
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"TWO DOSES COM- 
PLETELY CURED ME 
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Jan. 5, 1880 : 

To J. T. Davenport, London. 

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many years. In Choleraic 
Diarrhoea, and even in the 
more terrible forms of 



Cholera Itself, we have 
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than Collis Browne! is a 
deliberate breach of faith 
on the part of the chemist 
to prescriber and patient 
alike. — We are, Sir, faith- 
fully yours, SYMES ft Co., 
Members of the Pharm. 
Society of Great Britain, 
his Excellency the Viceroy"! 
Chemists." 



N 



R. J. COLLIS BROWNE'S 
CHLORODYNE Is the 
TRUE PALLIATIVE in 
EURALGIA, GOUT. 
CANCER, TOOTHACHE, 
RHEUMATISM. 



)R. J. COLLIS BROWNE'S 
CHLORODYNE is a 
LIQUID MEDICINE which 
ASSUAGES PAIN of EVERY 
KIND, affords a calm, re- 
freshing sleep, WITHOUT 
HEADACHE, and INVIG- 
ORATKS the NERVOUS 
SYSTEM when exhausted. 



k R. J. COLLIS BROWNE'S 
t CHLORODYNE rapidly 
cuts short all attacks of 
PILEPSY, SPASMS, 

COLIC. 
ALPIT ATION, 

HYSTERIA. 



IMPORTANT CAUTION. 

I The IMMENSE SALE of 
this REMEDY has given 
rise to many UNSCRUPU- 
LOUS IMITATIONS. Be 
careful to observe Trade 
Mark. Of all Chemists, 
Is. l^d., 2s. 9d., and 4s. 6d. 



Sole Manufacturer— 

J. T. DAVENPORT, 

S3 GREAT RUSSELL ST.. W.C. 



Fry's 

Pure Concentrated 

Cocoa 

Prepared by a new and special scientific process, securing 
extreme solubility, and developing the finest flavour of the Cocoa. 




SOLUBLE — EASILY DIGESTED — ECONOMICAL. 



This choice preparation of Cocoa makes a delightful beverage 
for Breakfast or Supper. Being exceedingly nutritious, easi'y 
digested and assimilated, it forms a valuable food for Invalids 
and Children. 



if* To secure this article, ask for 
"FRY'S PURE CONCENTRATED COCOA." 



38 PRIZE MEDALS AWARDED TO 

J. S. FRY & SONS, Bristol, London, & Sydney, N.S.W. 

Makers to the Queen and Prince of Wales.